THE race for the Bikita West by-election to be held on Saturday turns ugly, as a group of suspected Zanu PF youths allegedly savagely attacked the opposition National Constitutional Assembly candidate, Madock Chivasa and his election agent, Thomas Mudzamiri on Tuesday.
BY TAPIWA ZIVIRA
Chivasa confirmed the assault, which he said was carried out by about 10 suspected Zanu PF youths.
“They were travelling in an unmarked and unregistered Ford Everest (sports utility vehicle) SUV, and, as we were about to leave Nyika Growth Point, the youths laid an ambush,” he narrated.
“In the full view of people at the growth point, the youths, who were armed with a gun, started assaulting us, leaving me with a broken arm and Mudzamiri sustained broken ribs.”
Chivasa said they have since reported the matter at Bikita Police Station.
“They hit me with the back of a pistol on the head and I fell down, breaking my arm. The assailants clearly asked me who I thought I was to oppose Zanu PF. I am on my way to Silveira Hospital to get treatment,” he later told the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association.
“We reported the matter at Nyika Growth Point last night (Tuesday), but there was a single police officer, who said he could not handle political cases and only promised to inform his superior, who was absent from the station. We have since notified a person only identified as Mashavave, who is a senior (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) Zec official in Bikita.”
Police were not immediately available for comment.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) condemned the violence and urged police to investigate the matter.
“Zesn observers in Bikita West have confirmed this incident and also alleged that one of the people, who assaulted Chivasa and Mudzamira fired a gunshot in the air,” the electoral body said.
“Chivasa is said to have broken an arm and Mudzamira sustained head injuries.”
Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) condemned the violence that has characterised the run up to the election.
“HZT has recorded 57 human rights violations in Bikita West since November 1, 2016. These include assault, vote-buying, partisan distribution of aid, forced attendance to rallies, destruction of campaign material, hate speech, disruption of rallies, and threats issued to voters or candidates,” the peace lobby group said in a statement.
“The organisation condemns in the strongest terms the violations, as they compromise the outcome of the by-election. An upsurge in cases of human rights violations, also compromise the electoral playing field and casts doubt and uncertainty over the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections in Zimbabwe.”
“The calculated act of political violence by an organised hit squad wearing the ruling party Zanu PF regalia is a slap in the face of the constitutional requirement for free, fair and credible elections,” the rights group said.
Opposition parties have for years accused Zanu PF of using foul means to win elections and the upsurge in violence ahead of the snap poll will not surprise observers, amid calls for a level playing field ahead of a general election set for next year.
Chivasa is set to face-off with Zanu PF’s Beauty Chabaya, Terence Makumbo of Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe, independent candidate, Innocent Muzvimbiri and former Bikita West legislator, Heya Shoko, an independent. The seat fell vacant following the conviction of former Zanu PF lawmaker, Munyaradzi Kereke for raping a minor for which he is serving a 10-year jail sentence.