Its hell after elections

HARARE - Green trees and drying grass decorate a terrain which undulates with great modesty, exuding a glowing natural look of Muzarabani South in Mashonaland Central Province.

It is also in the same province that Alpha Resettlement has its dominant indigenous trees like Musasa donned with President Robert Mugabe’s campaign posters while only small torn pieces of opponent Morgan Tsvangirai’s prints can be seen dangling from the same trees.

Outside the beautiful landscape, which is situated around 170km from Harare, is a shuttering stillness that denies the celebration of nature or Zanu PF’s resounding victory by a two thirds majority.

Though it is in this constituency — envied for its rich soils and favourable climatic conditions — that 12-year-old Onias Machaya has his home, he currently wishes to be anywhere else besides his home area.

He might not know the definition of politics, vaguely understands why there is bad blood between his parents and those from Zanu PF, he can provide a hundred reasons why it is bad.

“I do not want to be an orphan. May you please help my parents survive?” looking terrified Onias pleads.

Eyes wet with tears he constantly gives in to a cough that has also affected most of the 10 children around him.

Onias expresses his fears to the Daily News, sitting on a mountain top he leans on a tree that provides shed during the day and is his roof during the night.

His real home is about 14km from the mountain that has become his sanctuary.

“I hate sleeping outside; I wish I could sleep in the huts where we eat from. It is so cold up here. Food is scanty and I wonder what will become of my education if we do not go back home,” said the Grade Four pupil.

Onias is a son of MDC supporter Patrick Machaya, whose family  — together with other nine families — has now camped in mountains within the proximity of MDC vice district chairman Jackson Rumero’s homestead at Alpha Resettlement in Muzarabani South as Zanu PF militants become their nightmare.

They eat at Rumero’s home and stay in the mountains.

“It is an advantageous position, we can see them coming and prepare,” said Machaya.

The nine households have become charity cases barely two weeks after Mugabe’s Zanu PF won a game-changing poll under controversial circumstances.

Mugabe won 61 percent of the presidential vote with Tsvangirai secured 34 percent.

Battle lines are clearly drawn in Zimbabwe’s politics. 

There is always a cost for supporting the opposition.

Harmonious co-existence is a high price for Zimbabweans especially those supporting the MDC because it has proved to be the only powerful contender to the liberation party, Zanu PF since 1980.

Shylock Rumero, 38, said the pre-election period misled them into believing Zimbabwe had politically become of age.

“Before the elections, everything was very calm and impressive. This place is well known historically for political violence perpetrated by all ranks of Zanu PF but we managed to hold door to door campaigns peacefully,” said the father of one.

But barely two weeks after the July 31 poll, the Muzarabani South MDC supporters and their families find themselves living in the bush — together with snakes — for refusing to have an assistant cast their vote on their behalf.

Rumero — being an agent at Mhene Polling Station — claims at least 30 percent were assisted, including people he knew were doing it to save themselves.

“Zanu PF youths told me they intended to take me the way they did my brother. My village head, told me he did not want to see me until 2018,” said 22-year-old Morgan Masindisa who claims he  lost his brother during the political violence that marred the 2008 presidential runoff.

According to several MDC agents, tens of thousands of the party’s supporters —though able bodied and living in a country with a literacy rate of over 90 percent — where intimidated into being assisted to vote while thousands could not cast their votes.

Preliminary statistics released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) show that out of the 3 480 047 people who cast their votes, 206 902 were assisted and 304 890 were turned away.

MDC supporters are wondering why Zanu PF members are baying for their blood when their party won.

Christina Shiriyedeve, 45, said apart from lacking in other basic needs like shelter, food, conjugal rights have also been stolen away from her.

“It is not just me, there are many women and men here younger than me, who cannot have their special moments because we have to sleep separately plus the men have to keep watch all night,” she said.

All three provinces that constitute Mashonaland namely Mash Central, East and West are historically political hotbeds.

In the run up to the 2008 presidential runoff alone, out of the 200 MDC supporters reported to have lost their lives, 22 are reportedly from Muzarabani.

Rashid Mahiya, Heal Zimbabwe director, said such developments speak volumes on the coalition government and Organ for National Healing’s failure to create sustainable peace mechanisms.

“How can we have people living in mountains because of believing in a different political ideology  as if we are living in the 1912 era?

“Elections have for long been a conflict source, the GNU and the mandated organ should have put in place watertight systems that would put an end to political violence.

“Perpetrators will continue intimidating, harassing and terrorising people as long as they are not arrested and held accountable for their actions. Many people traded their vote for protection in this election,” said Mahiya.

However, the accused “winning team” says these are false allegations fabricated by a defeated lot.

Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland Central, Dickson Mafios, dismissed the reports as unfounded.

“Those are false allegations being levelled against a party that has won the election resoundingly,” Mafios said.

“We are actually preaching post-election peace now and our people understand that there is no point in insulting people who have lost like that,” he added, inviting the complainants to bring their cases to him.

The terrorised families now pin their hopes on Tsvangirai — who himself is struggling to cope with his shocking defeat amid countless allegations of election rigging despite endorsements by regional and continental guardians of democracy such as Sadc and the African Union.

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