ZANU PF bigwigs have been accused of enticing unemployed youths to commit acts of political violence in exchange for money, beer and trinkets.
This emerged during a Zimbabwe youth in politics event on peace in electoral processes held in the capital which was organised by local civic group 4-H Zimbabwe in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland yesterday.
The event was attended by youth representatives from different political parties who signed a peace pledge as the country heads towards the August 23 polls.
Speaking at the event, CCC representative Womberai Shenhende said young people were being abused by the Zanu PF ruling elite taking advantage of their plight.
“Youths are being used as actors of violence. These youths are unemployed and they are economically victimised and as a result they are made vulnerable,” Shenhende said.
“They are paid a few dollars, beer and then they are instigated into political violence by political gatekeepers.
“The youths are being prevented from getting into positions of political influence but they are just there to put other comrades in power through violence.”
Zanu PF representative, Taurai Kandishaya, however, said the party was peaceful.
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“We are going to have peaceful elections, there won’t be violence as we are a peaceful party,” Kashindaya said.
“The peace pledge is a fulfilment of what our president Emmerson Mnangagwa is saying that we need peace. It also feeds into the motto of Zanu PF of unity and peace.”
Embassy of Switzerland representative, Stéphane Rey, condemned political violence in the lead up to the elections.
“Electoral violence is a symptom whose real cause must be addressed through long-term election reforms,” Rey said.
“The successful implementation of this peace pledge would pave way for an inclusive post-election dialogue on comprehensive reforms.”
4-H director, John Muchenje, said: “We have seen that in most cases the youths are in the forefront of politically motivated violence. That’s why we are having this peace signing ceremony today with youths.”
Zimbabwe is witnessing a surge in cases of politically-motivated violence.
Last week, a CCC supporter lost his life after he was stoned while fleeing from a suspected Zanu PF mob.
Human rights’ watchdogs have warned that Zimbabwe is headed for yet another disputed poll marred by political violence.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has been documenting cases of political violence.
On Wednesday, it released a report on the assault of CCC member, Vutisani Mushiyi, who was allegedly brutalised by a group of suspected Zanu PF activists in Chilonga ward 7 of Chiredzi South.
“Armed with logs, machetes, and knobkerries, they inflicted severe injuries on the victim. Mushiyi was rushed to Chiredzi District Hospital, where he received medical treatment for his wounds,” ZPP said.
On Tuesday, ZPP said a prominent diamond dealer in Chiadzwa, Manicaland, was leading a terror campaign against opposition supporters.
“In Mutare West, Tinoengana village B in Chiadzwa, Marange area, opposition CCC supporters are reportedly living in fear following threats to eliminate them,” ZPP said.
The report alleged that Zanu PF members were compiling a list of suspected opposition supporters and threatening to unleash violence against them if the ruling party loses upcoming polls.
“The victims are said to be reminded of the terrible atrocities of 2008 when opposition MDC supporters were killed in disputed elections.”
Zanu PF Mutare West MP, Nyasha Marange, however, dismissed the ZPP report.
“We are peacefully campaigning as Zanu PF ahead of the elections and we are confident of winning the elections,” Marange said.
“I know the opposition is trying very hard to tarnish the image of our party ahead of the elections.”
Chief Bernard Marange said he was not aware of the matter.
In its recommendations, ZPP said political parties should rein in their supporters to ensure peace prevails ahead of the polls.