War veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda has reportedly taken his Zanu PF reign of terror to Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North province after his alleged unorthodox campaign tactics caused havoc in Masvingo over the last few months.
Tsholotsho villagers told NewsDay this week Sibanda had made several visits to the district in the past two months.
Sibanda has reportedly addressed meetings in wards 1, 2, 7 and 8 amid unconfirmed reports he was brandishing a pistol at one of the rallies.
A villager, who requested to remain anonymous fearing reprisals, said the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leader first visited Tsholotsho on September 6.
Villagers said Sibanda’s first rallies were poorly attended, but attendances had improved allegedly after the war veterans’ leader threatened villagers with violence.
“He came again on September 25. Out of fear many people attended the meetings. He was carrying a pistol and came with two men, one of them also carrying a pistol,” the villager claimed.
Sibanda this week confirmed he had addressed meetings in Tsholotsho and only left the district last week, but denied brandishing a pistol or forcing the villagers to attend his meetings.
“We visited Tsholotsho and held meetings which were well attended. Visit the area and ask people. The meetings were good,” said Sibanda. “Such claims are big lies. The person who told you was just deployed to fabricate lies about us.”
Sibanda claimed his meetings were convened to discuss development and were not about elections.
However, the villagers maintained he threatened to return and “roast us alive if we remained defiant”.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora yesterday said villagers must not be intimidated by Sibanda.
“They must not take him seriously. If Sibanda wants to fight MDC-T, he is welcome. We are prepared and we know how to deal with people like him,” Mwonzora said.
Tsholotsho Senator Believe Gaule yesterday said he only learnt about Sibanda’s presence in the area through a report in the Voice of America’s Studio 7 news bulletin.
Tsholotsho has two constituencies represented by Zanu PF’s Jonathan Moyo (Tsholotsho North) and MDC’s Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South).
Tsholotsho district bore the brunt of the 1980s Matabeleland atrocities where an estimated 20 000 villagers in Matabeleland and Midlands were killed in a government-directed onslaught code-named Gukurahundi.
Sibanda spent almost a year campaigning for Zanu PF in Masvingo where he allegedly threatened villagers and suspected opposition supporters.
At some point, the Zanu PF provincial leadership in Masvingo ordered him out of the province fearing his antics would cause a political backlash, but later relented after Sibanda refused to budge.