Source: Machete gangs rally votes for Zanu PF –Newsday Zimbabwe
THE ruling Zanu PF party has allegedly unleashed machete-wielding gangs in the Midlands province to mobilise voters for its five million votes for ED campaign ahead of this year’s polls.
NewsDay gathered from some distraught villagers that the machete-wielding gangs were reportedly going door-to-door and frog-marching villagers to attend Zanu PF party meetings, where they are forced to pose as defectors from the opposition in an operation dubbed “Dzoka kumusha” (come back home).
Last week, a high-level Zanu PF delegation, which included party political commissar Mike Bimha, was in the Midlands province to mobilise voters and to ensure victory in the province, which is home to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling party’s first secretary and presidential candidate.
Early this month, Zanu PF, through its commissariat department, launched a Returnees’ Desk led by Blessing Chebundo, a former MDC member and Kwekwe legislator to strengthen its grassroots voter mobilisation programme.
Fear-struck villagers told NewsDay that over the weekend, some youth militias armed with machetes had stormed their homes to force them to attend party meetings.
On Tuesday, Zanu PF reported that it had successfully registered 3 500 returnees from the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party in the Midlands province, claims which were, however, disputed by the opposition party.
“It was a great day yesterday in Hozoli, Redcliff, as Cde Tongai Matutu, Cde (Blessing) Chebundo and their team registered over 3 500 new returnees defecting from @CCCZimbabwe,” the ruling party said on its Twitter handle.
“They complained of sexism, tribalism, individualism, misuse of party funds as well as betrayal by opposition leaders.”
In an interview with NewsDay, Chebundo confirmed that Operation Dzoka Kumusha was underway as a Zanu PF voter mobilisation strategy, but said he was not aware of people who were being forced to defect to the ruling party.
“I have not yet confirmed the 3 500 figure, but what I know is that throughout the country, we have recruited voluntarily. I can’t disclose statistics as yet, but what I know is there are tens of thousands who are have dumped the opposition, coming to Zanu PF, including family members of the key opposition activists. Some are bigwigs coming with their families. We record every member who defects. This is being done under Operation Dzoka Kumusha.”
Kwekwe Central legislator Judith Tobayiwa (CCC), however, dismissed the claims.
“It is not true that our members are defecting to Zanu PF. These are mere fabrications,” she said.
“What we are aware of is that Zanu PF is printing our party regalia, dishing out to their members or other ordinary people, who they parade as CCC members who have defected.
“We are also aware of incidences where Zanu PF is forcing citizens to take part in their meetings against their will. Vendors, for instance, are forced to leave their stalls to attend the Vendors for ED meeting against their will.”
In its central committee report released at the party’s seventh national congress in October last year, Zanu PF said it would up its game after observing waning support in the rural areas, perceived to be its stronghold.
Rights defenders have expressed concern over escalating political violence ahead of the elections.