Zanu PF stifles MDC rural campaign

HARARE - Suspected Zanu PF supporters are stifling and blocking MDC’s rural campaign by intimidating villagers who dare associate with it, the opposition party spokesperson Obert Gutu has said.

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC recently deployed its urban MPs to the rural constituencies — where the ruling Zanu PF has always received most of its votes — to drum up support ahead of the 2018 elections.

According to Gutu, villagers are afraid of associating with the MDC because of intimidation by the suspected Zanu PF functionaries.

He told the Daily News yesterday that the opposition faces an almost insurmountable task in engaging the rural folk as Zanu PF supporters have sealed off some areas while others are afraid of supporting the opposition fearing expulsion from their villages by village heads and other traditional leaders who have been co-opted into the ruling party structures.

“The feedback we are getting is that most, if not all, rural areas remain outposts of Zanu PF tyranny and intimidation. Villagers are living in fear of their lives because they are constantly reminded that supporting any opposition political parties, particularly the MDC, is treasonous and that they will be beaten up and victimised if they attend any opposition political parties’ rallies and other functions,” Gutu said.

However, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said if the MDC is facing challenges in rural areas then they should seek protection from the police.

“They must report those cases to the police because they are the law enforcement agents,” said Khaya Moyo.

In the past, particularly in the 2013 harmonised elections, the MDC has always had a poor showing in rural areas, losing heavily to Zanu PF and analysts say that is not about to change, unless the opposition engages traditional leaders —who are key in convincing the rural electorate.

On his own part, Tsvangirai has traversed the country trying to engage community leaders and demystify the “myth” that he is a creation of western governments.

The MDC also alleges that even if their supporters report such cases to the police, no action is taken.

According to Gutu, there is pervasive fear in rural areas and there is need to tread carefully otherwise those courageous enough to declare support for the opposition might end up brutalised as was the case in 2008, when opposition supporters were reportedly “killed and persecuted” for simply voting for Tsvangirai.

“People in rural areas need to be liberated from the yoke of Zanu PF mental slavery and thuggish political intimidation. They really need to be helped. They told our MPs who are on the rural outreach programme that their lives are in jeopardy, if they are suspected of supporting the MDC.

“Villagers are sick and tired of the Zanu PF regime’s false promises and violent methods of political mobilisation but they are helpless because Zanu PF thugs are running amok. There is total impunity and perpetrators of politically motivated violence remain scot-free. Even the police are afraid of apprehending these political hoodlums and thugs,” claimed Gutu.

One of the MDC MPs who was dispatched to Chiwundura in Midlands province, Sesel Zvidzai, told the Daily News that villagers are scared of attending MDC meetings because food hand-outs are also used as a weapon to whip them into line.

“...there is a lot of fear...people are denied food so it is really hard to convince them to rally behind the opposition,” he said.

Comments (3)

This comes as no surprise at all. The MDC has to somehow convert the fear of Zanu PF violence with the strength to defeat Zanu PF so that the rural voters become confident in the secrecy of the ballot. I think they need to work on what action ZEC will take on the obvious violations of basic voting tenets.

Sagitarr - 2 May 2017

MDC should just continue with campaigning even if one person attends a rally. Stop being too philosophical and address basic issues that are affecting the ordinary person out there! We will win. By faith the walls of Jericho came down!

Dakarai - 2 May 2017

Thats not new Tsvangison. The simplest way for MDC is to have a radio station and flood the rural areas with free radio receivers. That way evryone will listen to your message. Otherwise hamuhwine.

Silence - 2 May 2017

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