ZANU PF has reportedly upped its intimidation tactics in Bikita West to coerce villagers to vote for the party in a development that has raised fears of political violence.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT
Civic society organisations that attended a co-ordinating meeting hosted by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in Masvingo this week expressed fears over the political situation in Bikita West following the party’s recent defeat in the Norton by-election.
Zanu PF candidate, Ronald Chindedza lost the Norton seat to independent candidate, Temba Mliswa and the defeat left President Robert Mugabe (pictured) fuming and labelling his party’s candidate a “thief”, who was not known among the electorate.
Christian Voice International president, Tafumanei Zenda said signs on the ground pointed to a bloody by-election in Bikita West.
The situation, he said, was being worsened by that the government had not acted to address past incidences of political violence.
“Right now, we are hearing people from the ruling party saying that they would like to win the Bikita by-election by all means necessary to avoid what happened in Norton. Intimidation is rife and, as the church, we fear a repeat of the violence that has characterised past elections,” he said.
“We are concerned about political victimisation and high levels of intolerance in Bikita West.”
Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad) co-ordinator, Zivanai Muzorodzi said cases of intimidation and victimisation were high in Bikita West.
“We are deeply concerned at the volatile political situation, which has largely been as a result of intolerance and a determination by the ruling party to ensure that they employ all sorts of tactics to win in Bikita West.
Tolerance should be the hallmark of free and fair elections, but that is not the situation in Bikita right now,” he said.
Dates for the Bikita West by-election are yet to be announced, but Zanu PF will field Beauty Chabaya as its candidate.
Another issue of concern among CSOs in Masvingo is the politicisation of food aid and development projects. It came out during the meeting that traditional leaders were abusing their authority to sideline opposition supporters from benefiting from government programmes.
CiZC advocacy committee chairperson, Marvelous Khumalo said a national convergence on the Zimbabwean crisis was critical.
“At the moment, we are in the process of gathering views from various civic society organisations across the country so that we get their input and see the priority areas that need to be addressed at the national convergence,” he said.