Stay away, Masvingo tells war vets boss

MASVINGO - Former freedom fighters here have warned their national leader, Jabulani Sibanda, against setting foot in the province ahead of this year’s decisive elections.

They say the volatile war veterans chairperson could incite political violence in the province.

Speaking to the Daily News, Masvingo war veterans provincial leader Isaiah Muzenda said the province is pushing for a peaceful election campaign in line with President Robert Mugabe’s message.

“We do not want to see him here and we urge him to stay where he is. We want peace ahead of elections and that is exactly what President Mugabe is calling for,” Muzenda said.

Sibanda faces accusations of camping in Masvingo in 2011 for nearly a year.

During his stay, Sibanda was forced to defend accusations of spearheading a terror campaign against villagers perceived to be anti Zanu PF.

He was accused of moving around the seven districts of the province threatening villagers who supported the MDC.

This resulted in clashes with fellow liberation struggle fighters who argued that the aim of the war of independence was not to terrorise innocent villagers.

Muzenda said Sibanda’s presence in the province could ignite violence or instil fear in villagers.

“Those from other provinces who have the tendency of coming to other people’s provinces should be barred this year because they have nothing to lose if they incite violence which affects our local villagers.

“We do not want to have the same problem like that of 2011 when Sibanda camped here causing confusion in our party. In this election, President Mugabe is clear on political violence. He said “No” and wants a peaceful election, so those who run away from their rural homes to cause trouble elsewhere are not welcome,” he said.

Sibanda has previously said he would defy such directives, arguing that his campaign trail was peaceful and did not need the approval of the local leadership.

He says his meetings are meant to impart liberation war history to villagers and drum-up support for Mugabe, who lost dismally to his rival, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in the harmonised March general elections.

But villagers maintained that they were forced to attend meetings where they were threatened with war if they failed to vote for Zanu PF and its leader in the coming elections. - Godfrey Mtimba

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