THE Zanu PF youth league has accused MDC Alliance activists of defacing the ruling party candidates’ campaign posters across the country as incidents of defacing of campaign posters are on the increase.
BY SILAS NKALA/own correspondent
The league’s deputy secretary-general Mabutho Moyo claimed that his party was not involved as they abided by rules and regulations governing the conduct of elections.
“It’s clear that the MDC is now resorting to such practices because they know they are heading for a clean defeat. We have told our campaign teams to be calm and tolerant. We abide religiously by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) rules and regulations on posters,” Moyo said.
The defacing of rivals’ campaign material attracts a mandatory five-year jail term and $700 fine.
MDC (Welshman Ncube) spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi, however, blamed Zanu PF activists for defacing opposition candidates’ posters.
“There is need for the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to start awareness campaigns before, during and after elections to conscientise the ignorant people in Zanu PF about the code of conduct. Most of these offences are being committed by Zanu PF members who until this day believe in violent elections,” Chihwayi said.
“The MDC is concerned about poor voter education by Zec and absence of the peace crusade and peace gospel by the NPRC.
The defacing and pulling down of campaign posters is illegal, provocative and unacceptable in a democracy.”
Police and Zec officials in Beitbridge appealed for tolerance among candidates.
Beitbridge police boss Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri warned that candidates who tampered with competitors’ posters would face the wrath of the law.
Opposition Free Zimbabwe Congress official Blessing Choeni also called for political maturity among contestants.
Rural Communities Empowerment Trust (Rucet) Lupane co-ordinator Vumani Ndlovu said the incidents were a clear indicator of political immaturity, intolerance and lack of adherence to the code of conduct governing the behaviour of the candidates and political parties during elections.
“It is, therefore, incumbent on the political players to educate their supporters to respect the campaign material of other parties and candidates,” Ndlovu said.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said it was sad that there was cross-tearing and defacing of campaign posters in the country, but blamed Zanu PF for being responsible for the illegal activities.
“It’s clear then that we will not have a free and fair campaign because other political parties do not have free media coverage,” Fuzwayo said. However, Moyo dismissed the claims as baseless and argued President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s campaign had borne the brunt of the defacing.
“Well, they (opposition) must forward evidence as we are also seeking the same. Poster-tearing is a barbaric act of cowardice and has no place in the new dispensation,” Moyo said.
MDC Alliance spokesperson for Bulawayo Felix Magagela Sibanda blamed police for failure to do their job. “We appeal to all political formations to adhere to the conduct of code and Electoral Act to cause and maintain a peaceful environment throughout the prior, during and post elections,” Sibanda told Southern Eye.
The Lucia Matibenga-led People’s Democratic Party organising secretary Sengezo Tshabangu described the defacing of rival campaign posters as primitive, arguing most parties were already struggling to fund their campaigns.
“Parties, candidates and individuals going through as independents are hard hit by lack of financial support system. This behaviour drains the already dry pockets,” Tshabangu said.