Zanu PF’s harvest of fear

Source: Zanu PF’s harvest of fear – DailyNews Live

Gift Phiri      7 August 2017

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF is harvesting fear from the
2008 elections when over 200 people were killed, with many set to vote for
the ruling party out of fear after being made acutely aware that active
involvement in politics, particularly on behalf of the opposition, could
result in death, State, independent election bodies and analysts have
said.

Political experts said Zanu PF is aware that naked physical violence will
not be accepted by Sadc and yet at the same time a relatively free and
fair election might undermine its electoral chances in the crunch 2018
vote.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, the party is using “psychological
warfare premised on manipulating the fear inculcated in communities” in
the 2008 election,  among other strategies, according to Oxford scholar
Philan Zamchiya.

Zamchiya said Zanu PF would prefer a psychological warfare as compared to
a physical warfare, with the broader intent summarised as a “harvest of
fear.”

Voters know that little or nothing is done to bring the perpetrators to
justice, especially if they are members of the ruling Zanu PF, a fear that
has taken a heavy toll on the voting population.

Merely the threat of a repeat of the 2008 violence that Zanu PF is once
again hawking ahead of the 2018 elections, and the resulting fear it
instils, means that Zimbabwean voters will just cast their ballot for Zanu
PF to save their lives.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the first body tasked with
investigating cases of rights abuses and the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network (Zesn) -the largest independent observer group in the country –
have both highlighted that overt violence is now being supplanted by more
sophisticated forms of intimidation, such as threats of a repeat of the
2008 violence or coerced membership in Zanu PF.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo has rejected the accusations, saying
“we are not a party of coercion; people come to the party voluntarily.” He
said those intimidated must report to the police.

These pressure campaigns by government officials, traditional leaders or
Zanu PF members tend to be directed at the voting population and local
activists in the countryside, rather than high-profile opposition party
members.

In a report on the 2013 elections that has been tabled in Parliament, Zesn
said the spectre of violence that took place during the 2008 presidential
election run-off was ever present as Zimbabwe heads to another election.

“The long-term psychological impact of the type of violence that
characterised the 2008 presidential election run-off campaign with no
recognition or meaningful reconciliation cannot be quantified,
particularly when the threats to the victims have continued throughout
this electoral cycle,” the observer group said, adding there were no
mechanisms established to address fear, intimidation and violence.

Many rural Zimbabweans now consider threats or harassment against those
who support political parties other than Zanu PF as frightening but
“normal”. It has become increasingly common for village or commune chiefs
to threaten supporters of non-Zanu PF parties with violence, total social
ostracization, denial of access to community resources or support systems,
or expulsion from their villages.

A report on the findings of the ZHRC, pursuant to an investigation
undertaken into a complaint alleging violations of human rights by an
independent candidate prior to the Hurungwe West by-elections in
Mashonaland West, found that Mliswa, his supporters and his perceived
supporters in the June 10, 2015 special election “were living in fear.”

“They felt that they were constantly intimidated and that their security
was not guaranteed,” the constitutional body said.

Villagers were restrained from supporting Mliswa and warned not to attend
his rallies. Traditional leaders perceived him as not being suitable to
contest in an election even as an independent candidate because the top
echelons of the ruling party no longer recognised him.

“At the time of the investigation, complainant could hardly or fully
access the constituency in order to campaign,” ZHRC said. “The high levels
of repression, threats, intimidation and violence that some residents
perceived affect the right to vote as those people aligned to complainant
would not feel free to exercise this right.”

Chair of the ZHRC, Elasto Mugwadi, has pointed out that the rights body
could demand suspension of elections, at least by constituency, if there
was serious violence during the 2018 elections.

He extended this to include diatribes, hate speech and political
incitement. But the Research and Advocay Unit said “the downside is that
the ZHRC will only have power to recommend proposed suspension to Zec, and
the final power will still lie with Zec.”

“This is when the true independence of Zec will be critical,” RAU said.

As in past elections, local officials continue the practice of collecting
voter registration cards, recording the voter’s name and registration
number, and then returning the cards.

Traditional leaders also marshall voters to polling booths. This causes
widespread fear that the choices of individual voters will not be secret,
and in fact will be monitored by local authorities, experts said.

Zanu PF also distributes gifts as a reward to their supporters, using the
lure of gifts to coerce or force people into joining and supporting the
party.

In some areas, villagers have not only been coerced to swear loyalty oaths
and sign registration rolls for Zanu PF  in exchange for gifts, but they
have also been pressured to sign forms resigning from their previous
political party membership.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • comment-avatar

    ZANU of is worse than babbons who go into the field to loot look at Zimbabwe people are jobless no firms no money in banks solution these babbons called ZANU of must be chased by vote Mugabe Africa will remember you and ZANU as evil leaders of Africa zanupf mustfall

  • comment-avatar
    Zambuko 5 years ago

    I feel little pity for villagers.

    They vote in their numbers for ZANU-PF because of the perceived benefits they receive.

    They are adults. They reap where they have sown.

    The threatening political culture they have built for themselves is an appropriate herding practice that works.

    It is the normal they created, or allowed to be created, in their name, after they had defeated the Rhodesian State.

    Is this now a bitter harvest?