BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA ZANU PF has reportedly launched a witch-hunt targeting its supporters suspected to have voted for Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in the Saturday by-elections amid fears of a bhora musango (protest vote) in 2023.
The late Robert Mugabe almost lost the presidency in 2008 when ruling party supporters overwhelmingly voted for Zanu PF legislators, but snubbed him in protest over his overstaying in power.
While Zanu PF has been publicly celebrating its performance in the March 26 by-elections, NewsDay has gathered that the ruling party has unleashed its youth militias on a witch-hunt against “sellouts” within the party.
Under the operation, the party’s youth are reportedly moving door-to-door in its rural strongholds demanding to know who the villagers voted for, and victimising those suspected to have voted for the opposition.
Zanu PF won nine of the 28 contested parliamentary seats while Chamisa’s CCC got 19.
According to leaked WhatsApp group chats of prison officers at Chikurubi Maximun Security Prison where Zanu PF’s Mavis Gumbo was defeated by CCC’s Tendai Biti, some wardens were now facing victimisation for allegedly voting for the opposition.
One of the chats read: “Vamwe tatiza kubasa coz of victimisation. Hanzi sei Zanu yakadyiwa mucamp. Kkkkkkkk tyt PPU neSupport Unit ma1, transfers soon. (Some of us have fled from our workplaces because of victimisation. They are asking why Zanu PF was defeated in a camp. It’s tight in Police PPU (Public Protection Unit) and Support Unit camps. Transfers are looming.”
In Midlands, Mnangagwa’s home province, some informal traders have been ordered to vacate their vending stalls in Kwekwe on the same charges.
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Artisanal miners have not been spared with some having been driven away from Globe and Phoenix mines that is linked to party bigwigs.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa denied the reports, saying the party respected the democratic right of citizens to vote for the candidates of their choice.
“Zanu PF is against any post-election victimisations. If there are cases like that, people should go and report to the police. Zanu PF is not bothered by how people of Zimbabwe exercise their right,” Mutsvangwa said.
“It would be probably found out that there are some rogue elements within the society that has nothing to do with the ruling party. Zanu PF is focusing on rapid urbanisation where it is targeting to restore order in service delivery in cities that have suffered years of neglect under the opposition MDC leadership.”
In Bulawayo, leaked WhatsApp group chats early this week exposed the anger of Zanu PF activists over the party’s poor showing in the by-elections amid revelations that only 15 people voted for the ruling party when more than 200 party members were seen at a queue at one polling station.
CCC won all the contested local government and parliamentary seats in Bulawayo.
Zanu PF went for broke ahead of the elections, donating goodies such as mealie-meal in what the opposition dismissed as a vote-buying gimmick. In Binga North, the party dished out bicycles, but still lost the seat to CCC.
In Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency, the party is reportedly demanding back its mealie-meal.
“Just before the by-elections, the party was giving out mealie-meal to residents for them to vote for its candidates. Now that it has lost, all those suspected to have voted for CCC are being ordered to give back the mealie-meal,” a source added.
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