Masvingo youth rights groups in fear

MASVINGO - Youth rights groups in Masvingo have expressed panic and fear following recent reports of violence and intimidation.

They are warning of a bloodbath in the forthcoming general election if the situation remains volatile without intervention.

Speaking during a youth meeting organised by Female Students Network (FSN), several youth organisations rubbished peace calls by political parties in the coalition government as hollow.

The youths cited the resurgence of political violence and intimidation of human rights groups and civic society leaders as an indicator of instability.

“People of this country should brace for a bloodbath. Political violence is inevitable since this election would be a make or break for the two major political parties,” said Arnold Batirai, leader of Masvingo Youth Network.

FSN director, Evernice Manondo feared for youth, particularly females in the coming elections. She said females will be the most affected as they are vulnerable in times of crisis.

“As an organisation for young female students we are scared that we will be the targets of violence in the forthcoming polls. We have every reason to believe that the elections will be soiled by violence considering what has been happening shortly before the referendum and after,” Manondo said.

He alsosaid young girls are usually subjects of rape during political violence periods.

The youth groups accused some political leaders of preaching peace but failing to walk the talk.

“We are so much disturbed by some political leaders like Mugabe who have turned the calls for peace at public gatherings into a national anthem but not walking the talk. It is hypocritical because he preaches peace in the afternoon and his party is all over people instilling violence at night. So how can we be sure of a free and fair election?” Zivanai Muzorodzi, Community Tolerance and Reconciliation Development (Cotrad) Programmes Officer queried.

The youth called on Sadc to move in and engage political parties to end violence.

“Sadc as the guarantor of the inclusive government should rein in principals of the political parties to make sure that the elections will not be marred by political violence,” said Muzorodzi. - Godfrey Mtimba

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