TOP Zanu PF officials and traditional leaders in Masvingo have reportedly threatened to track down and kill all suspected MDC-T supporters who attended opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s campaign rally at Man’a business centre in Gutu South last Saturday.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
This came as political tension builds up in several parts of the country, with seven homesteads belonging to opposition Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) supporters torched by suspected Zanu PF supporters in Makoni North on Tuesday.
According to an audio recording broadcast by United States-based private radio station VOA on Wednesday, Masvingo traditional leaders identified as Chief Makore (real name Shonhe Muzenda Chihambakwe Makore) and headman Jestias Muzenda, Zanu PF official Joseph Musasiwa and youth leader Rabson Manzunzu addressed disconcerted villagers at Chaitemura shopping centre on Tuesday following Tsvangirai’s rally, and threatened to unleash a terror campaign similar to the 2008 bloodbath which left at least 200 MDC-T supporters dead.
Musasiwa read out a list of over 30 villagers reported to have attended Tsvangirai’s rally, and threatened to kill them before the 2018 plebiscite.
“The government does not buy bullets so that we shoot trees. I will shoot people, not trees,” Manzunzu threatens in the audio recording.
“The forest is known as a place for animals, but with where we are going, some people will end up living in the forest as wild animals come to their homes. The only houses where you will see some activity are those of Zanu PF supporters alone and we will not compromise on that.
“Starting at this moment until (2018) elections, every village head must support Zanu PF. We cannot afford to see the country recolonised,” Manzunzu said, adding village heads found supporting the opposition would be stripped of their positions.
Speaker after speaker made chilling warnings of the looming bloodbath and urged people never to cry foul as they willingly attended Tsvangirai’s rally without being coerced.
Makore declared a ban on MDC-T rallies in the area.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu yesterday confirmed receiving reports of the threats from party members in Gutu. He said it was regrettable that Zanu PF officials were taking a leading role in inciting violence against opposition supporters.
“Those threats are gross. They are in extremely bad taste. However, the MDC is not at all surprised by those threats because this is what we have always been complaining about over the years. Zanu PF is a mafia organisation and in the rural areas, villagers go through hell as they are commandeered to attend Zanu PF meetings and rallies,” Gutu said.
“Villagers are routinely threatened with death should they be seen attending MDC rallies and meetings. We have always stated that Zanu PF thrives on intimidation, threats and violence. This is why it is virtually impossible to hold free and fair elections in this toxic political environment. Traditional leaders are being abused and they end up operating as local de facto Zanu PF political commissars.”
Gutu added the country needed to reform the electoral processes so as to do away with unruly politicians who use violence to force people to vote against their preferred candidates.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo declined to comment over the alleged threats.
“I am in Victoria Falls at the moment and nobody has briefed me about that, but I will not comment on what I don’t know,” he said.
In Makoni North, seven families were left homeless after suspected Zanu PF militias torched homes of suspected supporters of the Elton Mangoma-led RDZ on Tuesday night in a new wave of politically-motivated violence.
Thousands of dollars’ worth of household property, clothing and food were destroyed in the fires which reduced grass-thatched huts to rubble while scores of villagers were lucky to escape unhurt.
When NewsDay visited the area on Wednesday, villagers had gathered at headman Solomon Mukovamombe’s homestead pondering their next move.
The affected families said they reported the matter to the police and some suspects were picked up although they were not sure if they were going to be charged.
One of the victims, Anna Mukovamombe (59), said the incident had traumatised her. Mangoma also condemned the violence.
“We have seen this before in this constituency and it is a repeat. We want people to have political tolerance and certainly the police must act this time and if they fail to act, we will be very disappointed because they would have shown that they are partisan,” Mangoma said, adding that the livelihoods of people had been negatively affected by such actions.