Independent candidates bemoan intimidation before by-elections

Zimbabweans check election results posted outside a polling station in Mbare on August 1. Picture: Aaron Ufumeli

SEVERAL independent candidates in the June 10 by-elections have alleged they are facing serious intimidation in their respective constituencies accusing Zanu PF of deploying State security agents to instil fear in opposition supporters.

by Silence Charumbira/Elia Ntali

They said the situation reminded them of gruesome images of the June 2008 elections that left several people dead allegedly at the hands of State security agents and Zanu PF Glen View South constituency candidate Michael Chivandire said there was continual intimidation in his constituency.

“Since the announcement of the by-election dates by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) in April 2015, Zanu PF has been harassing and intimidating those perceived to be supporting independent candidates,” said Chivandire.

He alleged that the Zanu PF candidate for the constituency Pius Madzinga had established a base at his house in Glen View 1 where more than 15 youths were housed.

“These Zanu PF thugs have been moving around at night spraying independent candidate’s posters with black paint and sometimes pulling the posters down,” Chivandire said.

Chivandire said he had made a police report (RRB Number 1190971) against Madzinga’s sons for painting his perimeter wall, but nothing had been done.

“The continued mass pulling down, tearing and spraying of posters is in violation of the electoral laws of our country. I urge the police to take action and bring to book these Zanu PF thugs. Zanu PF should desist from forcing people to attend its rallies. I have witnessed Zanu PF youths force-marching people to its rallies and meetings and this is what we don’t want in our constituency,” he said.

Zachariah Misheck Mushawatu, a Harare East independent candidate, was concerned that Zanu PF was distributing rice to residents in a bid to entice them to vote for the party.

“I recently raised the issue at a Zec-organised multi-party liaison meeting, but was told to file a report with the police,” Mushawatu said.

“Unfortunately, some of the constituents that reported the issue to me are not willing to come forward as witnesses because they fear for their lives. Nonetheless, it is imperative that allegations of electoral misconduct by this candidate be substantiated by irrefutable proof in order for legal proceedings to be instituted against him.”

In a letter written to the Zec district election officer and the Zimbabwe Republic Police district policing officer, Headlands independent candidate Albert Makaratirwa said the constituency had been militarised.

“The military people first appeared in the constituency on May 17 in Ward 8 Chiropa Area,” he said.

He said the team was headed by a colonel (name supplied) whose name did not appear in the Headlands constituency voters’ roll.
“He roams in the company of an ex-soldier. The two drive an Isuzu double cab. More of their teammates have been planted in especially ward 7 and 8 at Chinyudze RSC, Inyati Mine, Pfumojena and Headlands,” said Makaratirwa.

“As such, the people in the area feel now feel very unsafe, even myself as a candidate and my supporters’ safety and security is now at stake.”

Meanwhile, at a Press conference on Wednesday, 10 independent candidates said a grand coalition was necessary to bring in a new political discourse in the country.

The candidates sought to court ousted former Vice-President Joice Mujuru to join the democratic forces in Zimbabwe by challenging Zanu PF in the 2018 elections.

“As independent candidates, we are unanimously agreed that the country is now in dire need of new proactive unifying and all-embracing leadership and we call upon all democratic progressive forces to unite,” said the coalition’s spokesperson, Farai Marvelous Kuveya (Harare East)

“We are encouraging Mujuru to stand for election in 2018 as we feel she is a principled and tolerant leader who has the people of Zimbabwe at heart and the ability to lead the revival of the country.”

The candidates alleged that Pedzisai Nheta (Kambuzuma) was living in fear after suspected State security agents attempted to abduct him.

“We are unable to hold public rallies as the culture of violence and intimidation has characterised all polls and as we speak, there have been several attempts to abduct one Harare candidate Pedzisai Nheta of Kambuzuma constituency,” Kuveya said.

“The matter was reported at Marimba Police Station under RRB REF 1194840. In the interest of protecting our supporters and promoting peace, we are using various innovative strategies in our different constituencies.”

Other independent candidates in the coalition are Endai Mugomeza (Kuwadzana), Tonderai Herman Karimakwenda (Dzivarasekwa), Donald Chimatira (Glen View South), Tafadzwa Dzumbunu (Highfield),Onismos Zhavairo (Mbizo), Albert Mhlanga (Pumula), Njabuliso Mguni (Lobengula) and Sibangilizwe Msipa (Makokoba)