WAR veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda on Tuesday reportedly directed village heads in Lupane, Matabeleland North province, to instruct their subjects to burn MDC’s party cards or face a “big fire” as it emerges the provincial Zanu PF leadership supports his terror tactics.
REPORT BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/NDUDUZO TSHUMA
As exclusively revealed by NewsDay last week, Sibanda, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, descended on the province on Monday as the Zanu PF shock-troops stormed the provincial capital to drum up support for President Robert Mugabe and his party ahead of polls.
NewsDay on Tuesday visited Lupane and discovered that a few hours after Sibanda’s meeting with village heads, held at Makhovula Primary School in Gwampa’s Ward 18 area, Zanu PF militants raided the home of Ndamulani village head, Philani Ncube allegedly searching for MDC materials.
Maduna Ncube, Philani’s brother, confirmed the raid, saying they were now living in fear of Sibanda and Zanu PF supporters.
He said Philani had since gone into hiding, having fled his homestead with his family on Wednesday morning in apparent fear for his life.
NewsDay visited the homestead and found it deserted on Tuesday.
“A single cab vehicle came to the Philani homestead at around 9pm and we heard people kicking at the doors shouting, saying ‘where are the MDC cards and radios?,” Ncube said. His homestead is next to the village head’s.
“We were frozen with fear and we could not go and assist because it was at night and we did not know how many those people were,” he said. “We only went to his homestead after they left and found out that they had ransacked each and every hut, including the granary.”
Last week Sibanda revealed that he was taking his campaigns to Matabeleland North, after accusations that he had spearheaded terror crusades in Masvingo and Mashonaland provinces.
A villager said they had been instructed to burn MDC cards and support Zanu PF.
“We were told (by Sibanda) to instruct villagers to dig holes and burn MDC’s party cards saying ‘go away Satan’,” a villager who requested anonymity said.
“He said we should whip villagers into line to support Zanu PF or face a big fire. We were all left terrified.”
Sibanda reportedly said he would launch a full-scale campaign in 10 days and villagers in the area said they were unsure what he meant.
“What scares us the most is that Sibanda, during the meeting, said that he has a list of all MDC supporters in Gwampa,” the villager continued. “We do not know what he meant exactly by that.”
Village heads said they were instructed to compile a list of all their subjects aged between 13 and 36 years and submit it to the local chapter of the war veterans’ association.
MDC-T Gwampa area Ward councillor Kenny Mpofu on Wednesday said he will lodge a complaint with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) over Sibanda’s presence in the area.
“We are not against Sibanda, but what we are against is the way that he has been conducting these meetings,” he said.
“We are against him threatening villagers. We are definitely going to compile a report and lodge our complaints with Jomic.”
Sengezo Tshabangu, the MDC-T Matabeleland North chairman added: “No amount of intimidation or fear can change the hearts and choices of the people during elections.”
However, Sibanda on Wednesday denied that he was leading a terror campaign, adding that he was only holding orientation meetings.
“These are not terror campaigns,” he said. “I have not intimidated anyone, these were just orientation meetings. But I will be coming back to meet the villagers for more campaigns.”