THE ruling Zanu PF party has been intimidating and forcing tobacco farmers and villagers in Guruve and Mutoko over the past month to donate money to fund the hosting of district and provincial Independence celebrations this weekend.
In Guruve, party district chairperson, a Mr Mtendamambo, wrote a letter dated March 5 which read: “As district Mtendamambo (sic), we are holding our 18th April Independence celebrations at Dodds Msitwe River Range farm.
“On behalf of the over 2 000 people I hereby request your hearty support for this year’s celebrations”.
Some of the farmers and villagers, who preferred anonymity, told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mtendamambo demanded US$5 per family. The same amount was requested from those operating shops and bottle stores.
The farmers said they feared that failure to comply with the party’s demands could result in them being evicted from their farms.
“We are loyal Zanu PF supporters, but to be forced to pay for these celebrations is not fair. There is no accountability pertaining to how the money will be used, how much the beast for the celebrations would have cost. It just shows that this money will end up in the hands of someone,” said one Guruve tobacco farmer.
In Mutoko, Zanu PF supporters were demanding US$1 and US$2 from the poverty-stricken villagers.
One villager from Nyamuzuwe said: “Meetings were held at the herdman’s homestead and a register will be provided to tick families who would have paid.”
In Mudzi district, an area notorious for political violence perpetrated against opposition MDC-T supporters during elections, villagers were being forced to pay between US$0,50 and US$1 each, while businesspeople were ordered to fork out between US$2 and US$5 each.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party would be holding Independence celebrations countrywide, but was quick to point out that donations for the events should done voluntarily.
“The contributions should be done voluntarily, this is Independence and it is for everyone. These forced contributions are challenges that we face perhaps due to backwardness,” he said.