BY EVANS MATHANDA
LOBBY groups have written to Local Government minister July Moyo asking him to investigate traditional leaders that were allegedly participating in political violence and have been furthering the interests of Zanu PF by attacking members of the opposition MDC Alliance.
The Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Masvingo-based Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad) last Wednesday wrote to Moyo complaining about the conduct of the traditional leaders, whom they accused of violating the law by engaging in partisan politics.
“The Election Resource Centre (ERC) in partnership with Masvingo based organisation Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), has filed a complaint with the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing against Sabhuku Nhamoinesu Nemanwa of Chivanhu Village, Masvingo for contravening section 281 of the Constitution by participating in political violence and furthering the interests of a political party, through mobilising citizens allegedly under the Zanu PF banner to participate in pre-emptive attacks against members of the MDC Alliance on Monday October 11, 2021, the attacks occurred in and around Charumbira, Masvingo,” the two groups wrote.
This follows recent attempts on MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa’s life in Mutare last Tuesday where his convoy was allegedly shot at. There was also violence in Masvingo during his party interface visits in rural areas.
In their statement, the ERC and Cotrad accused village head Nhamoinesu Nemamwa of Chivanhu Village in Masvingo of contravening section 281 of the Constitution by participating in political violence and furthering the interests of Zanu PF.
This followed reports that he was working with Zanu PF youths to block Chamisa from meeting community members.
However, Nemamwa told NewsDay that he did not participate in the attack of MDC Alliance cars in Masvingo, adding that he now feared for his life as he was receiving death threats from unknown people.
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“I have received so many calls and messages about that issue from people who are saying I mobilised Zanu PF youths to attack MDC Alliance members on Monday October 11. I was not part of that. Now they are threatening to kill me for something that I did not do. I fear for my life,” Nemamwa said.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere told NewsDay that it was unconstitutional for traditional leaders to engage in political violence, adding that the MDC Alliance would remain defiant despite plots to destroy the opposition.
“We support the ERC’s move in this regard. It is unconstitutional and criminal for traditional leaders to engage in political violence, or for them to act in a politically-partisan manner,” Mahere said.
“We condemn this unlawful behaviour and reiterate the call for an immediate stop to the violence. There has been a widespread and systematic attempt to ban the MDC Alliance, but we remain defiant. We will continue to build a broad alliance that will assure six million votes and victory in the next election.”
Chief Simbarashe Chinorumba of Nemamwa Village said some traditional leaders were, indeed, responsible for violent attacks against MDC-Alliance members.
“The guys are violent; they are responsible for what happened in Masvingo on October 11. Traditional leaders should not serve the interests of any political party as per the Constitution,” he added.
Moyo is yet to respond to the letter.
Follow Evans on Twitter @EvansMathanda19