Bikita poll: Villagers tell horror stories

Source: Bikita poll: Villagers tell horror stories – DailyNews Live 22 January 2017

Blessings Mashaya

BIKITA – Villagers in Bikita who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday
yesterday recounted horror stories of thuggery and intimidation by Zanu PF

They said the sum total of the anti-democratic behaviour was to force
them, as allegedly directed “from above”, to vote for the ruling party.

Many of the visibly-shaken villagers said they had ended up duly voting
for Zanu PF, fearing that they would be dealt with ruthlessly if they
disobeyed the “chefs” (Zanu PF bigwigs).

It was also claimed that some traditional leaders had either willingly, or
under duress, also participated in the thuggery, amid allegations that
many people had been told that they were being closely monitored even when
they were in voting booths.

This was confirmed by Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) interim chairperson for
Masvingo, Claudius Makova, who said regardless of the fact that on the
actual voting day there was “a semblance of tranquillity”, the by-election
could not be viewed as “free, fair and credible by any stretch of the

“We know that there are some village heads who are acting as Zanu PF
political commissars. One of the biggest culprits is village head
Musavengana who told his subjects that they must vote for Zanu PF.

“They intimidate people and are introducing other mechanisms to rig this
election. This must stop for the good of the nation,” Makova told the
Daily News On Sunday.

Peace civic group, Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT), also noted “multiple”
electoral malpractices in the run up to yesterday’s voting.

“Heal Zimbabwe is greatly concerned with the escalation of intimidation,
forced attendance and unfair food aid and vote buying in Bikita West.

“The organisation views the escalation of human rights violations in
Bikita West as a hindrance to the conducting of free and fair elections
and limits the free participation of the voters,” its director, Rashid
Mahiya, said.

“Heal Zimbabwe notes that the participation of village heads and the
coercion of villagers to attend political gatherings is a grave and
serious violation of the Constitution which provides for political rights
where citizens should be free to participate, form or join political
parties of their choice,” he added.

A local villager, who was on his way to vote at Maregere Shopping Centre
yesterday, claimed in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday that they
had been given Zanu PF membership cards on Thursday, in addition to being
forced to fill “special” forms ahead of voting.

“They told us that they will know everyone’s vote through the forms.
Village heads were also threatened by Zanu PF and were told that they must
make sure that the ruling party wins,” the terrified voter said.