TRADITIONAL leaders in Manicaland province have reportedly defied directives from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and continued demanding serial numbers on their subjects’ voter registration slips.
BY CLAYTON MASEKESA
Zec recently issued a statement warning political actors to desist from the practice which borders on voter intimidation.
But, villagers in Mutasa, Chipinge and Mutare districts called NewsDay offices yesterday saying they were being coerced to disclose the serial numbers on their voter registration slips.
“We are being intimidated by kraal heads here so we are extremely worried about the situation,” a villager in Mutasa Central constituency, said.
“As we see it, the situation might degenerate into further chaos and political violence,” added the villager citing his kraal head Joseph Usada and headman Patrick Mukahanana as the perpetrators.
Contacted for comment, Usada said he was acting on instructions from the headman.
“I am just doing what I was instructed to do. The headman (Mukahanana) has told me to collect the slips from people. I cannot refuse an instruction,” he said.
“The headman is giving me instructions, the headman is being given an instruction from the chief and the chief is being given an instruction from President Mnangagwa, so who am I to refuse those instructions?”
Mukahanana could not be reached for comment yesterday.
It is the same situation in Chipinge South in Kangoma village in ward 26.
“The kraal heads are openly intimidating villagers and we really wonder why they are threatening us,” said a local villager.
In Mutare West constituency ward 28, a councillor identified as Tonzi is working with the headman Lazarus Masasi to force villagers to bring registration slips. Tonzi on Sunday addressed villagers working on the Marambakudya dam construction site to surrender the slips to headman Masasi.
In Chikanga/Dangamvura constituency some people identifying themselves as Zanu PF party youths and “soldiers” are reportedly intimidating residents forcing them to submit the slips.
Some civil society groups in Mutare last week nabbed one of the unnamed perpetrator and a report was made at Dangamvura Police Station.
MDC-T Manicaland spokesman Trevor Saruwaka yesterday called on traditional leaders to abide by the principles of the Constitution.
“We are deeply concerned about cases of intimidation in the rural areas. The kraal heads are violating the very basic provisions of the Constitution,” said Saruwaka
“We urge citizens to report such cases if they take place for the offenders to be apprehended,” he added.
Pressure has intensified on Zec and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to bring to book traditional leaders and individuals intimidating voters by demanding to see and recording serial numbers of their voter registration slips.
Parliament also discussed the issue recently in the National Assembly where opposition MPs demanded that Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi put an end to the malpractice which is viewed as a way of intimidating voters into voting for the ruling Zanu PF party.