HomeOpinionThe dangerous pursuit of five million votes

The dangerous pursuit of five million votes

Candid Comment
Nevanji Madanhire

AT the turn of the millennium when farm invasions began in earnest those whose properties were being invaded often went to make police reports but the police always looked the other side. Former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri is on record telling the victims that the invasions were a “political matter” and police’s “hands were tied”.

It was that attitude that saw people losing their properties, which were otherwise protected by property rights laws. It was this same attitude that spawned the phenomenon called land barons and the impunity with which they operated.

During that time the justification was that indigenous people were reclaiming their land snatched by settlers.

As we hurtle towards the watershed 2023 elections, the same attitude by the police is already beginning to emerge.

This time it is backed by the mantra, “Five million votes for ED and Zanu PF.”

The land barons are back in full force dishing out peri-urban land to anyone who wants it. This was how Harare South became such a bastion of Zanu PF support.

But this time it is not only about peri-urban land for home construction or small-scale farming.

Countrywide barons are dishing out mine claims to desperate youths who otherwise would have nothing else to do for sustenance.

Unfortunately this comes at great cost to the environment and the safety of the people.

Reports indicate that gold-rich areas have been invaded by hundreds of youths under the tutelage of powerful people in the ruling party.

These youths get access to these goldfields on the promise that they will vote for Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF. Some of the youths work for these big chaps who are running hammer mills.

But the same reports indicate that the work is done without environmental impact assessments and dangerous chemicals are used to process the gold ore.

Chemicals such as cyanide and mercury are used without following any guidelines on disposal.

What this results in is that the chemicals are washed into river systems and eventually find their way into the water that people and animals use.

The young people themselves are exposed to the same chemicals because they have no access to protective clothing. The barons would not care less because all they want is a quick buck and the precious vote in 2023! Never mind that the youths will suffer the long-lasting effects of the chemicals.

Political violence is already on the rise in the provinces and will intensify as the elections approach.

It will be dog-eat-dog as the main opposition MDC-A also hunts for their own “six million votes”.

The police are overly aware of what is going on, but like during the Chihuri era, they are hearing no evil, seeing no evil and saying no evil.

But if the ruling party does win, it will be a Pyrrhic victory due to the trail of destruction it will leave in its wake.

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