VOTER intimidation and threats of being denied food aid by Zanu PF youth and traditional leaders in arid Mwenezi East has intensified as the constituency readies for a by-election set to be held next Saturday, a non-governmental organisation said.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Heal Zimbabwe Trust, a civil society organisation that operates in the field of good governance and conflict resolution, called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to intervene now and save the credibility of the ballot.
The call comes less than a week after Zimbabwe People First candidate Kudakwashe Bhasikiti abruptly withdrew from the by-election, citing intimidation and vote-buying by Zanu PF.
“Heal Zimbabwe also implores the government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure a fair playing field ahead of the by-election. This, therefore, involves Zec ensuring that it investigates incidents of intimidation by political players ahead of the election and take necessary measures to guarantee a level electoral playing field,” the organisation said.
The organisation added intimidation, vote-buying and Zec’s inaction were all in breach of the Constitution.
“Heal Zimbabwe notes that such practices and threats ahead of the by-election are a total disregard of constitutional provision Section 67 which provides for political rights,” the civic society group said.
The provision states that “every citizen has the right to form, join and to participate in the activities of a political party of their choice”.
“Section 156 of the Constitution also compels Zec to eliminate electoral violence and other electoral malpractices,” it added.
The organisation’s monitors in the constituency have also recorded cases of intimidation by Zanu PF youths and traditional leaders in wards 5, 7 and 13.
“On March 25 2017, Free Zimbabwe Congress party member Jerry Tsakani was assaulted for wearing his party T-shirt by Stonya Muhango at Neshuro growth point in ward 5. In ward 7, on March 26 2017, village head Neshuro deployed a team of Zanu PF youths who moved in the ward forcing people to (contribute) 2kg mealie meal and $1 towards Zanu PF candidate Joosbi Omar’s rally that will be held at Kuwirirana ward centre on March 29, 2017,” it reported.
“In ward 13, on March 26 2017, headman Chipepetseke also deployed several Zanu PF youths who embarked on a door-to-door exercise in the ward writing down names of people perceived to be opposition party members. The youths threatened people with violence and withdrawal of food aid in the event that Zanu PF candidate in the by-election Joosbi Omar loses the election.”