Political intimidation rife in Mvurwi

MVURWI – Driving into the farming town of Mvurwi in Mashonaland Central, one could be forgiven for assuming that only one party is taking part in the elections end of this month.

Zanu PF posters were the only ones visibly pasted on walls while MDC formations’ posters are nowhere to be seen.

It is less than two weeks towards elections and this scenario is widespread.

Youth Agenda Trust, YAT coordinator for Mashonaland Central Tonderai Samhu and aspiring MDC candidate in Mazowe North Constituency said they had pasted posters for their candidates but these were removed allegedly by members of Zanu PF party.

He said the situation is tense in Mvurwi as anyone suspected to be in the opposition is not being allowed to engage in any activities freely.

The assumption is if a group wants to engage in any activity that involves a number of people then it is assumed to be MDC.

Recently, Youth Agenda Trust, YAT, a grouping of young people that is talking about peace and tolerance went to Mvurwi with a programme to engage youths in a soccer match were disrupted by mobs in Zanu PF T-shirts and caps.

In a move that has reminded villagers in Mvurwi that a free and fair election is still a pipe dream, Zanu PF youths led by a retired soldier disrupted a sports tournament that was organised by YAT arguing that the organisation is a front of imperialists.

The soldier only identified as Chishaka formerly with the presidential guard in cahoots with a local farmer identified as Nhepera led Zanu PF youths in a door-to-door campaign warning villagers against attending the YAT event and threatening them with unspecified action.

The group, which allegedly received logistical support from an aspiring Zanu PF MP, stormed Pembichase Farm located in Ward 26 of Mazowe North Constituency and ordered youths, some of whom had walked about 10 km to the venue, to abandon the Play Your Vote sports tournament.

The group was supported by a number of policemen from the area who threatened the youths against defying the militia’s orders.

Samhu was taken for questioning and threatened with death if he dared organise a similar event in the constituency.

Addressing youths who had braved the intimidation, YAT coordinator Fortune Nyamande challenged them to be resilient and turn out in large numbers and vote for progressive politicians.

He called on young people to choose politicians who have sustainable solutions to their problems such as unemployment, basic education and health facilities and a government that respects fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the new Constitution.

On the sidelines of the tournament, the youths discussed their right to vote, issues around the secrecy of the ballot and provisions of the new Electoral Act.

Youths who attended the meeting received T-shirts courtesy of Zimrights and the Election Resource Centre and newsletters from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

YAT maintains that although Zanu PF has been telling anyone who cares to listen that it is ready for elections, it is evident that it wants to conduct the polls under an intimidating environment and steal the people’s vote.

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