TRADITIONAL leaders in Masvingo are reportedly forcing their subjects to donate 50 cents per household towards the Zanu PF conference set for December, a practice that has been condemned by a human rights group.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) said there have been some recorded cases of traditional leaders forcing villagers to make contributions to the conference.
Households failing to raise the 50 cents are being threatened with blocking their access to food aid, which has been sustaining families in the drought and hunger-stricken province.
HZT has called on traditional leaders to stop coercing villagers to make the contributions.
“Heal Zimbabwe condemns the actions being perpetrated by some traditional leaders working in cahoots with Zanu PF councillors and structures, who are forcing community members in rural areas to make financial contributions towards the Zanu PF annual conference to be held in Masvingo in December 2016.
“Heal Zimbabwe Trust, through its trained human rights monitors spread across all the provinces, have recorded cases, where villagers are being threatened that, if they fail to make contributions, they will be denied food aid,” the organisation said in a statement.
This is not the first time villagers have been ordered to contribute towards Zanu PF events. The human rights watchdog said the practice was illegal, and violated section 67 of the Constitution that states that “… every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to form, join and to participate in the activities of a political party of their choice”.
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“HZT notes that such practices are not only an abuse of power, but also go to show the insincerity of the ruling party given that rural communities are already reeling under the effects of drought and the cash crisis.
“In this view it is a violation of human rights to force people to participate in political initiatives against their choice,” the organisation said.
“It is sad to note that this practice is coming at a time when most rural communities are dependent on food aid due to the El Nino-induced drought and a biting economic crisis worsened by the pending introduction of bond notes.” HZT said the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission must launch an investigation into the issue.
Zanu PF will hold its annual December conference in Masvingo on dates to be advised at a proposed budget of $4 million.
Traditionally, about $100 000 must be raised by party structures in the host province.