Two Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists in Chimanimani in Manicaland Province were fined three goats by their Chief Timothy Munorowazve Muusha for disobeying a local village head’s order to vote for the ruling Zanu PF party in the just ended elections.
After the elections, the two brothers, Solomon and Knowledge Tambwera were brought before Chief Muusha’s traditional court for allegedly disobeying the village head, Charles Manzou, who had ordered that all villagers in the Manzou area should cast their votes for Zanu PF.
According to one of the brothers, Solomon, the village head held a meeting for villagers in Mutsangani area on August 20, 2023.
“After the meeting, the village head stood up and started chanting Zanu PF slogans. He said was sent by Chief Muusha to order every villager in the ward to vote for Zanu PF. Manzou told villagers that if they ignored his directive, they were going to be followed one by one after the elections,” Tambwera said.
The CCC activist said after that address by the village head, he stood up to openly challenge him saying what he was doing was illegal and unconstitutional.
“I even told the villagers they should ignore him and vote for candidates of their choice. My brother Knowledge also stood up and told Manzou that he was out of order,” Tambwera said.
Tambwera said their stance enraged Manzou and another known Zanu PF activist identified as Rachel Rupiya, threatened the two brothers.
This forced Solomon and Knowledge to sleep in the bush for nearly three days after receiving information that Zanu PF activists were after them following that meeting.
“On August 26, 2023 we received a letter from Chief Muusha ordering us to appear before his court to answer charges emanating from the village head’s meeting. When we attended the court, Chief Muusha claimed we insulted him by refusing to obey the village head’s order to vote for Zanu PF,” Tambwera said, addeing Chief Muusha threatened to banish them from the area.
“I challenged Chief Muusha to prove his allegations and when he failed to prove the allegations, the chief who had consulted with the village head and Zanu PF activists fined us three goats for disobeying them yet we were exercising our democratic rights. We were given until the end of September to pay the fine.”
After the judgment, Tambwera said he also reported the case to the police.
“I am appealing to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to assist us to fight this injustice. We cannot lose our livestock to such injustice when both of us are unemployed,” he said.
Contacted for comment, the village head – Manzou admitted holding a meeting with villagers on the eve of the harmonised elections but denied allegations ordering them to vote for Zanu PF.
“I was sent by the Chief to remind his people to vote. I never ordered anyone to vote for Zanu PF. I even queried the chief why we were holding such a meeting towards an important election. The chief told me the directive came from (his seniors) above,” Manzou said.
“At the meeting two young men challenged me and argued that what I was saying was not in order as it amounted to forcing people to vote against their will. I informed the chief about this and he in turn summoned the two young men to his court because he felt insulted by the two who openly challenged his directive.”
Manzou confirmed the two brothers were fined three goats.
“They are, however, still to pay the fine,” said the village head,
When reached for comment, Chief Muusha confirmed he fined the two brothers for “insulting” him but could not disclose how they offended him.
“They insulted me yet they knew they were my subjects. I told them we should respect each other so that we can co-exist. It was not even clear what was said at the meeting but the village head told me the two brothers said what he was telling them did not make sense and dismissed him. They disrespected me by dismissing my village head. I have fined them three goats,” confirmed the chief.
Chief Muusha has been caught in a storm before, as in June this year he allegedly threatened his subjects with unspecified action if they voted for CCC during a meeting to officially introduce him at Muusha Primary School after he was installed.
At that meeting, Chief Muusha claimed he had assigned village heads in every ward to make sure his subjects must vote for Zanu PF and that if the opposition CCC won, that particular ward would be in trouble.