Voter registration activists live in fear

BULAWAYO - Voter registration activists in Bulawayo are living in fear following a clampdown by the police to stop further registration of first time voters in the city widely regarded as an MDC stronghold.

Helen Tsepiso Mpofu, who has for the past years been spearheading voter registration in Bulawayo under the Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe (Yidez), told the Daily News yesterday that officers from police secretive unit, Pisi, had been deployed to investigate issues to do with voter registration in the city’s high density suburbs.

“Since Thursday last week, Pisi officers have been going around the suburbs investigating and interrogating our members on the voter registration,” Mpofu, who is Yidez Bulawayo coordinator, said.

“The police are asking for the number of people we have registered so far as well as inquiring more on the whole process we have been undertaking for a long time.

“As if that was not enough, I personally received a call from a police officer who identified himself as Agrippa Mabanda from Southampton House along Main Street. He interrogated me about my interest in the voter registration process,” she said.

“Most of our members now fear for their lives because knowing how the police are being used by Zanu PF, we really take this issue seriously,” she added.

Since Thursday, areas such as Makokoba, Mzilikazi, Mpopoma, Nkulumane and Bulawayo central have received constant visits by the Pisi agents.

Some of those questioned, Sizalobuhle Phiri and Simbarashe Chakauya, who are Yidez coordinators in Makokoba Constituency, confirmed being interrogated by a Pisi officer only identified as Ncube.

Mpofu, also an MDC activist in Bulawayo, described the latest development as a clear example of intimidation by Zanu PF, adding the team would not be cowed.

“This is nothing but just intimidation to our members and we are not taking a step backwards. In fact, we have raised the issue with the national leadership and subsequently written a letter to Jomic (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee) raising the matter,” she said.

Yidez director, Sydney Chasi, told the Daily News that his office was still in the process of gathering details.

“Yes we have received reports that the police have been going around intimidating our members in Bulawayo but I am still trying to engage our lawyers. As of now, we don’t have finer details,” said Chasi.
Contacted for comment, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Mandlenkosi Moyo said he was not aware of the matter.

“I will find out,” is all he could say.

The move by the police is believed to be an attempt to tactically condense the number of voters in the region considered an MDC stronghold ahead of the watershed elections expected this year.

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