ZANU PF has reportedly deployed the dreaded Central intelligence organisation (CIO) to intimidate Hurungwe West voters ahead of the by-elections in that constituency slated for June 10, Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
The Hurungwe West poll is one of the 16 by-elections being held on June 10 to replace fired Zanu PF and MDC-T legislators.
Zanu PF expelled Hurungwe West MP Temba Mliswa and Headlands MP Didymus Mutasa, while MDC-T fired 21 legislators — 14 of which are electable seats in the National Assembly.
Hurungwe West villagers told the Zimbabwe Independent CIO agents were targeting people and churches perceived to be supporting a defiant Mliswa, who has indicated that he will contest the elections as an independent.
“A Methodist church reverend was threatened following the visit by Mliswa to the church last week,” one villager said. “The agents looked for the reverend on Monday after news that Mliswa was part of the congregants on the previous day (last Sunday). They did not find the reverend because he is said to have travelled to Harare.”
“The CIO agents are also looking for another pastor (only identified as Mukombwe) whom they suspect to be campaigning for Mliswa.”
Another villager said: “They have a list of names of people who have been in recent contact with Mliswa and they are looking for them. If they fail to find them, they are leaving intimidating messages such as “akaramba achiita zvekwaMliswa anofa” (If he/she continues supporting Mliswa then he/she will be killed.”
He said the CIO agents are visiting households and threatening people said to be supporting Mliswa.
In an interview, Mliswa said: “I have received reports of intimidation but Zimbabweans should know that politics is about convincing the electorate with policies and manifestos.”
“People must exercise their freedom of choice so there is no need to force people on whom they should vote for. To vote is their democratic right.”
Zanu PF’s intimidation tactics of deploying state security agents were confirmed this week by expelled war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, who was key in Zanu PF’s campaigns for the 2008 and 2013 harmonised elections.
Sibanda camped for months in rural areas in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces ahead of the 2013 elections campaigning for Zanu PF.
According to Sibanda, Zanu PF “are used to vote buying and deploying state security agents to fight on their side”.
Nine candidates will take part in the Zanu PF primary elections, with Affirmative Action Group president Keith Guzah throwing his hat into the ring for the Hurungwe West seat.
Guzah lost Zanu PF internal polls for Magunje in 2013 to Francis Ndambakuwa.
Other Zanu PF members who have expressed interest include Malvin Chimutashu, Robert Tichareva, Lancelot Karonga, Retired Colonel Patrick Maponga and Tainazvi Mahere.
However, Mliswa enjoys support of war veterans, many Zanu PF members and party youths in the area who have publicly vowed to back him. Mliswa has already launched his campaign with traditional leaders and war veterans in the area endorsing him. — Staff Writer.