News in depth: Zanu PF terror leaves opposition on the edge

Source: News in depth: Zanu PF terror leaves opposition on the edge | The Standard (Local News)

Chenjerai Hondo Masviba is appealing to both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga to make sure citizens are protected.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

TRUE to his middle name, Chenjerai Hondo Masviba, the struggle lives on.

Masviba, a victim of recent unprovoked Zanu PF-sponsored violence, says he will not abandon the struggle, and the people he leads. He is a member of the MDC Alliance party led by Nelson Chamisa. The 42-year-old says he is not a coward, but has chosen not to mobilise party members to retaliate because he is a law -abiding citizen.

“I just prayed because I cannot abandon the people. I would have abandoned the will of God. If God commands as He does in Amos 3 verse 8, I have to do the job. I have to do it according to the call, which I received,” Masviba told The Standard on Friday.

Masviba is among a number of Caledonia residents, who were severely assaulted by Zanu PF youths in Harare last week in unprovoked attacks.

It all started on Saturday when ruling party youths disrupted the opposition party’s anniversary celebration preparations in Caledonia, beating up MDC Alliance youths with sjamboks and all sorts of weapons.

The beatings did not end there as opposition party activists in the settlement have been followed to their homes, and beaten up as the ruling party ups its election campaigns to win back the seat that they lost to the opposition in the 2018 elections.

The sprawling settlement situated to the east of Harare was birthed following the illegal parcelling out of land by alleged Zanu PF linked land barons. Caledonia had all along been under Harare municipality although some residents of the area voted under Goromonzi South constituency.

In July, Caledonia was relocated to fall in Mashonaland East in a curious delimitation exercise  interpreted as a ploy by Zanu PF to win back Goromonzi South constituency that the party lost to the MDC Alliance in the disputed 2018 general elections.

Masviba, who is the Eastview residents’ association chairperson, and others who are resisting the constituency movement, are paying the price. His being a MDC Alliance activist is not helping matters.

“On Monday, whilst in the company of fellow residents having drinks at the local shops, a group of Zanu PF youths arrived in a T-35 truck, rounded us up and forced us to lie down before beating us up with whips and stomping on our heads with booted feet,” Masviba said as he narrated his ordeal.

“The beatings only stopped after a brave resident, who is also a Zanu PF member, walked up and questioned the youths’ motive and  who had sent them and to which Zanu PF party they belonged. That is when they stopped and drove off.

“All the time during the beatings I was praying, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. The humiliation of being whipped in public by kids was unbearable. Psychologically, I am devastated.”

Masviba sustained various body injuries and now suffers occasional blurred vision and a nagging headache. He has been treated at a local private health care facility.

An MDC Alliance member shows injuries sustained on Monday

The violence in Caledonia comes at a time when the opposition is reporting an increase in politically-motivated violence against its members and leader Chamisa, who is on a countrywide tour to drum up support for his party.

Chamisa survived an alleged assassination attempt last week.

On Friday, a number of people were left nursing injuries following violent clashes between MDC Alliance and Zanu PF activists in Zvimba, Mashonaland West province.  Ruling party supporters had attempted to block Chamisa from meeting local villagers ahead of upcoming elections.

Chamisa has been to Manicaland and Masvingo on his “Meet The People” tours that have been characterised by violent attempts to stop him by Zanu PF members.

Inadvertently confirming his party was responsible for the violence that has marred Chamisa’s rural campaign, Zanu PF acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa recently accused the MDC Alliance leader of provoking party supporters during the countrywide tours.

“I am not safe because internal sources from Zanu PF have told us that the ruling party has hired principal land barons to deal with us, and eliminate us for political expediency because they want to win Goromonzi South at all costs,” Masviba lamented.

Zanu PF blamed the loss of Goromonzi South to factional wars among land barons in the constituency. Former Public Service minister Petronella Kagonye, who represented Zanu PF, lost dismally to Rueben Chikudo of MDC Alliance.

“That is where the source of the  victimisation is coming from.  We have queried why Caledonia was unilaterally moved from Harare to Goromonzi because residents acquired their stands knowing it was under Harare, and it was legal. It was above board, so who is going to compensate them for the loss they are going to suffer if our area is transferred to rural Goromonzi? How can we be managed by a rural authority?”

According to MDC Alliance secretary-general Charlton Hwende, one party activist suffered broken ribs during the attacks on Saturday while several others are nursing various injuries.

“They (Zanu PF activists) are just attacking any member of the MDC, or suspected member of the MDC. The Saturday meeting was sanctioned by the police and it’s a pity that a political party can then wantonly disregard the constitution and disregard regulations as certified by the police,” Hwende said.

Hwende however, warned that his party would not continue to sit and watch while other political players beat them as and when they wished. He said the MDC A ‘will not be punching bags’, and has ‘budgeted for the violence’ as the country moves towards what looks to be a hotly contested 2023 general election.

“The environment (in Caledonia) is tense, our members are not being allowed  to meet and conduct voter registration awareness…but let Zanu PF be warned, we have budgeted for this violence, and we are ready,” Hwende said.

“We want a peaceful country but our youths will remain vigilant against those who act outside the law and disrupt our programmes. It is up to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to bring peace by ordering their youths to allow the MDC Alliance to function peacefully.”

Zanu PF acting spokesperson Mike Bimha last week said the ruling party had no policy of beating up people. Documented evidence has, however, shown the ruling party youth openly threatening violence against the opposition.

Analysts have said Zanu PF is panicking over pending by-elections. There are 28 vacancies in the National Assembly and 105 in local government following the recall of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors by Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC T.

Elections in Zimbabwe remain suspended over Covid-19 fears even as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson has revealed that the electoral body is now ready to conduct the outstanding by-elections.

ZEC chairperson justice Priscilla Chigumba told diplomats last week that a statutory instrument issued in October last year by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga suspending elections prevented the electoral body from conducting by-elections.

Observers and election watchdogs have,however, argued that suspending elections was no longer sustainable given the atmosphere in the country and in the region health wise. Perpetuating such a suspension would be an open assault on democracy and constitutionalism, they said.

As the violence continues to flare up, Masviba made a passionate appeal to Mnangagwa to call Zanu PF youths in Caledonia to order.

“We are not cowards; but if we take the law into our own hands they will arrest us,” Masviba said.

“I am no longer safe; I feel my life is in danger, but I will not abandon the struggle. I even sometimes think of appealing to Mnangagwa, and Matanga (police commissioner general Godwin) to protect us.”

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