Recent crackdown reveal Zanu PF's violent past

HARARE - The recent crackdown on political and social activists is not anything new as Zanu PF is known to mastermind crackdowns every other general election.

Controversial playwright Cont Mhlanga said in an interview he held with Enos Nkala sometime back, the nationalist told him that in 1979 as Zanu PF faced its first crucial election, he and Maurice Nyagumbo were responsible for creating a Zanu PF violence octopus.

“Nkala told me that Zanu PF had nothing to offer at the election in 1980 and used the violence octopus.
“He said they under declared the number of war veterans in their camps, for instance, where they had 15 000 they declared 5 000.

“The remaining 10 000 were planted among the populace as civilians while actually they were planted to execute a violent campaign,” said Mhlanga.

The playwright said in past elections Zanu PF has used the violent operanda to cow the electorate.

“It started with Joshua Nkomo and Zapu — they were harassed and persecuted. Then it was Edgar Tekere and Zum and then the MDC.

“But now that the MDC is in government, Zanu PF has targeted political activists.

“After the activists, it will spread and God knows to whom.”

As for the crackdown on activists, Rashweat Mukundu says hawkish elements within Zanu PF and the security sector are fighting back to disrupt any smooth political process.

“This group is concerned about the future and how seemingly Zanu PF is giving too much ground to the MDC.
“Remember they wanted to stop the constitution review process by throwing in as many objections and Mugabe prevailed on them.

“Their strategy now is to disrupt and target opponents of Zanu PF, when this happens Zanu PF is condemned in its entirety hence the moderates are pushed back to a hard line position as a defence mode,” said Mukundu.

He says the security sector and Zanu PF as a party are divided right in the middle and what is happening at Zacc, arrests of CSO leaders, MDC officials are all interlinked.

“It is a struggle for power and control in Zanu PF between moderates and hardliners.
“Mugabe benefits from this as his rivals within and without the party are kept busy, however this is an indication that forces within are looking beyond him and concerned about the future,” said Mukundu.

Precious Shumba, Harare Residents Trust director said the harassment of human rights’ defenders and political activists is a clear message emanating from the hardline wing within Zanu PF that the GNU partnership means very little to them.

“They are sending a message to the MDCs that no matter how much progress you might make, the Zanu PF side of the GNU still makes decisions, and the MDCs are powerless to stop the persecution.

“On the political activists, it is clear that the stage is being set for a violent clampdown on leading or influential actors on the political scene,” said Shumba.

He said it requires the MDCs and other political parties to develop a strong communication system that enables them to document the factual situation on the ground without the need to exaggerate or assume things.

“The information departments need to move away from being sensational to being objective and factual.

“The next harmonised election will be violent and repressive, but the perpetrators are going to be smarter than they were in June 2008 when they acted openly. This time they will first weaken the structures that enable the other parties to disseminate information.

“There is likelihood of high level infiltrations that will contribute to the spreading of malicious and damaging information,” he said.

Social commentator Thomas Deve said: “Political harassment has come to characterise this country’s political processes and this is not the end of accusations and counter accusations especially when it comes to trading insults especially for the principals in the GNU.”

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