Opposition cries foul in Bikita election

HARARE - Analysts, civil society groups and the opposition were united in condemning the conduct of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF in the Bikita West by-election which was held yesterday, saying this did not bode well for the looming 2018 national elections.

Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, they said the warring and under pressure former liberation movement had “openly signposted” how it would use “foul and murderous” methods to retain power in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 polls, after the run-up to the Bikita West by-election was marred by deadly violence and intimidation of voters.

The results of the hotly-contested by-election were not yet available at the time that the Daily News on Sunday went to print late last night.

However, analysts, rights groups and the opposition were adamant that they had seen enough in the events leading to the mini-poll to understand Zanu PF’s thuggish strategy for the 2018 national polls.

“The shocking political violence witnessed in the Bikita West by-election, just as what happened in Norton, confirms that Zanu PF’s infrastructure of violence remains intact and that the police will always look the other way when the party unleashes political violence.

“This is a red flag that the 2018 elections will probably be as violent as the 2008 elections, with no accountability whatsoever for abuses. Zimbabwe is yet to move away from a culture of violence,” Human Rights Watch senior researcher for southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, which once again declined to participate in the by-election, insisting on the implementation of sweeping electoral reforms to level the playing field, also warned that Zanu PF was “oiling its coercive machinery” in preparation for 2018.

“Whenever Zanu PF feels threatened, they revert to their default mode of violence, intimidation and thuggery,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“The regime was shocked by the result of the Norton by-election and this is why they are employing unprecedented violence and massive vote-buying measures as part and parcel of their election campaign tactics.

“But the fact remains that ... Mugabe and Zanu PF are now unelectable. We urge the people of Zimbabwe, particularly the youths, to register to vote in their thousands as soon as Zec commences the biometric voter registration exercise in March 2017,” he added.

In the run-up to yesterday’s by-election, suspected Zanu PF thugs, who were brandishing guns, left for dead National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate Madock Chivasa and his election agent Thomas Muzuva — as they made their way from a local shop where they had gone to buy food.

It was this merciless attack on Chivasa and Mudzamiri which heightened fears that Zanu PF had launched its bloody campaign ahead of the watershed 2018 elections.

Analysts have also said that it is worrying that there appeared to be “a consistent method of intimidation and violence by Zanu PF” in the country’s recent by-elections.

In the run up to the Norton by-election last October, in which Zanu PF candidate Ronald Chindedza was trounced by  former Mashonaland West provincial chairman Temba Mliswa, supporters of the ruling party ran amok as the brawling former liberation movement went for broke in its desperate bid to win the plebiscite.

Armed with sticks and stones, drunk ruling party hooligans, battered supporters of Mliswa and fought running battles with police — in barbaric scenes which turned the usually sleepy Harare dormitory town into a mini war zone.

The chaotic scenes left scores of people badly injured and forced Mliswa to cancel his scheduled rally at Ngoni Stadium where thousands of his supporters had gathered for a star rally.

And fearing a repeat of its mauling in the Norton by-election last November, Zanu PF had deployed the full might of its terror machine in the subsequent Chimanimani West by-election, which unsettled many villagers there.

“The violence we witnessed in Bikita and Norton are a clear indication of what the 2018 election holds in store. As expected, Zanu PF will resort to its default strategy of violence, intimidation and coercion, which is all not surprising,” political analyst, Maureen Kademaunga, also told the Daily News on Sunday.

“What is worrying are the levels of complacency that the law enforcement agencies who should be preserving peace are displaying.

“Also, it is quite disturbing that in 2016 we actually witnessed police themselves being perpetrators of violence through the aggressive and unwarranted use of force on unarmed civilians during protests,” Kademaunga said.

Civic groups which were monitoring the Bikita West by-election have also raised concerns regarding a number of irregularities during the course of last week, which they blamed squarely on Zanu PF.

Among the electoral malpractices listed by the observer groups were the commandeering of villagers to Zanu PF meetings where they were directed to give their headmen ballot paper serial numbers, feigning illiteracy, so that they could be “assisted” to vote.

In September last year Zanu PF youths also ran amok in Guruve, embarking on an orgy of political violence there and bludgeoning four Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) bigwigs — including a retired senior military official and former diplomat —  before forcing a forcing a local school to close.

The barbaric attacks by the axe-wielding ruling party mobs against ZPF officials also saw property worth tens of thousands of dollars, including two vehicles, being destroyed in the historically volatile Mashonaland Central Province.

The bloody scenes at Dunaverty Farm, where the three ZPF officials are running agricultural operations, left four people hospitalised, including Retired Brigadier-General and former Zimbabwe ambassador to Mozambique, Agrippa Mutambara.

Comments (13)

Mugabe should stop the violence in Bikita be4 tugged a political crook.At his old age he must b a mature man,not force people to elect him & his agents to the gorvenance of this country. He must shy out,he is an old man, advanced in years.This is called abuse of the powers of his office.Now abusing even our soldiers,the police &other arms of gvt not to do their job.If the people want to retire the president he has an obligation to accept that position without n query ,itz their right.I urge the youth used by Mugabe to beat us to relocate to their homes &help to build the country.Mr president don't send men to beat us-electing a new leader is not a sin-allow us to do it,your time is up

Addmore Gudo - 22 January 2017

These opposition leaders were warned Zanu PF will rig the elections unless reforms are implemented and now the complain!

Nomusa Garikai - 22 January 2017

Sound advice there @Gudo. Unfortunately, no one is at home to listen. ZANU is rotten to the core. The youth have been corrupted, the Chefs have dipped their beaks too often into the corrupt pool and Bob has never cared from the start. Message? We can never appeal to these people's better judgement because all they care about is ZANU, a corrupt machine. Time to say to hell with elections until there are proper reforms, and an open register and outside independent observers. Otherwise ZANU will continue with its antics of destroying our country.

Dunlop Munjanja - 22 January 2017

The Face of Evil: Where and when the owner of stolen goods is forced to plead with an armed robber for permission to share his stolen goods with the robber in the presence of police.....aaaaagh! " Pamberi ne ZANUPF"

Sekuru Ndoronga - 23 January 2017

The Face of Evil: Where and when the owner of stolen goods is forced to plead with an armed robber for permission to share his stolen goods with the robber in the presence of police.....aaaaagh! " Pamberi ne ZANUPF"

Sekuru Ndoronga - 23 January 2017

NCA learning it the hard way...reforms reforms first!

Regalia - 23 January 2017

mai mujuru should swallow the pride and be tsvangirai "s deputy in the coalition.

CHICHI - 23 January 2017

We are sick and tired with this so called zanu pf we even worn them on the printing of bond notes but all fall on dump ears wait and see after three month all is destroyed??????????

Taneta - 23 January 2017

Mujuru has no support and is not known only those few gammatoxs are making her feel she is very big politically and flattering her ,We have said it many times here that Mujuru has no support and its waste of time to think that she is political giant .But what i think is all those who voted for zanu are lunatics who do not know what voting mean .They is no any reason why a sane person can vote for zanu

Diibulaanyika - 23 January 2017

Again we have lost.what do we need to do to change things in this country.It seems there is too much confusion in opposition.Diibu you just full of anger but no solution.So what if you told us about Mujuru.Why didnt Tsvangi put up a candidate to contest.For now I think people like Tete Viola can help us turn the tables.We need leaders with vision to defeat zanu.

masimba - 23 January 2017

Much as i would want to disagree with @viola,I admit a lot of her input have come correct on predictions.Do we realy need her Ngwena to get our country moving?Im 25 yrs old and have not known good life and honesty in leadership.Mudhara Tsvangi has been shouting since i dont know.Now its Mujuru and nothing seems good.What now,Tete Viola.Trusting your Ngwena seems the last option but are we not going same route ,of failiure?At least answer this Tete .You seem to dodge this question.

masimba - 23 January 2017

You must be crazy me angry of what ? It sounds you like lies and very shallow minded bcoz you still asking why did not Morgan put someone to contest when you know the position of the party regarding by elcetions you are in a blackout info wise . Mujuru has no support that is how things stand .The same with Munangagwa he has no support he has a bunch of well wishers who can not win elections for him finish and klaa

Diibulaanyika - 23 January 2017

Mudara Diibula you were spot on i remember you saying Mujuru is just over rated true she is As of Ngwena i was at some rural areas during the exmas festive many pple do not know the guy but they KNOW tswangison interesting stuff .

Dave - 23 January 2017

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