Mugabe and politics of fear

Source: Mugabe and politics of fear – DailyNews Live

Gift Phiri  25 July 2017

HARARE – Zimbabweans are more afraid today than they have been in a long
time, with the majority unable to exercise their free will in elections
because they are worried about being victims of political violence, the
Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace (CCJP) has said.

Fear pervades Zimbabweans’ lives and politics, the CCJP said in an
annexure of a damning report on the 2013 harmonised elections tabled in

The dossier, tucked inside a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) report,
notes that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF is a master of fear, invoking
it in concrete and abstract ways since the 2008 elections.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo
said he had not seen the report, but denied that his party was harvesting
fear planted in the 2008 vote.

“We are not a party of coercion; people come to the party voluntarily.
Anyone intimidated must report to the police, we are a democratic party,”
Khaya Moyo told the Daily News yesterday.

“We can’t talk about this today. Why didn’t they report to the police?” he

CCJP said more than most political parties, Zanu PF grasps and channels
the fear coursing through the electorate. And if Mugabe still stands a
chance to win in next year’s harmonised elections, the Catholic group said
fear could be the key.

CCJP chairperson Bishop Alex Muchabaiwa said: “without serious national
healing and reconciliation process, most people will carry the same fear
and trauma up to 2018 elections where they will just vote, not for the
best leaders, but to save themselves.

“There is need to begin to pray and fast in preparation for 2018
elections,” the right reverend Muchabaiwa said.

The CCJP said the 2008 violence that killed 200 people – “was a political
investment of the individuals, groups and institutions that perpetrated

The run-down districts of the capital and rural areas were at the centre
of several weeks of post-election violence in 2008, in which 200 people
linked to Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC were killed.

“While there was little open violence after 2008, intimidation, threats
and coercion continue, with war veterans and some traditional leaders as

“As in 2008, this charged atmosphere of intimidation was fuelled by the
drive to influence voters political choice,” the CCJP said in its
executive summary.

The CCJP – that has established Diocesan Commissions that have created
community-based structures countrywide that monitor justice and peace –
said if fear is strong enough, it can accomplish something exceedingly
rare: It can override people’s pre-existing partisan commitments. And Zanu
PF has been harvesting the 2008 fear.

CCJP said Zanu PF’s success in the 2013 elections can be largely
attributed to Zimbabweans’ increased fear of violence.

And their concern about a repeat of the 2008 post-election terror was a
good predictor of their voting habits, even apart from partisanship, as
the country heads to the 2018 vote.

The government insists it can deliver a smooth poll and avoid a repeat of
the bloodshed after the 2008 presidential election.

The opposition say the vote cannot be credible unless the Zec is reformed
and its commissioners and secretariat changed.

In the last presidential election in 2013, the result was contested but
voting was calm.

But the forthcoming mid-2018 poll, when Zimbabweans will elect the
president, Parliament and councillors, poses a bigger challenge as this
time, trust in institutions overseeing the vote has plunged even though
Zec is ushering in a bio-metric voter register and the opposition is
mooting fielding a single candidate.

CCJP brushed aside concerns about the voter register being flawed, saying
“no voters’ roll is perfect even in mature democracies,” concluding that
Zanu PF was in fact successfully using the power of fear in politics,
especially in rural areas, to retain power.

CCJP said villagers have been forced to pretend illiteracy so political
agents or activists could assist them to vote.

“Those who were believed to have voted for a political party of their own
choice in 2008 were `assisted’ to vote by political party activists or
agents. This was common in the dioceses of Gokwe, Masvingo, Gweru and the
archdiocese of Harare, especially in Mutoko,” CCJP told Parliament.

Traditional leaders assembled people on their homesteads on voting day and
marched them to designated polling stations to vote for Zanu PF, the
report said.

Some traditional leaders deprived other community members of food or any
other humanitarian aid because they support certain political parties.
Villagers are threatened with eviction if they do not support Zanu PF.

And Zanu PF officials and traditional leaders have a habit of promising
more violence than that experienced in 2008, or even a “liberation war” if
Zanu PF loses elections.

CCJP said even after the 2013 elections, there are some who continued with
the intimidation, targeting those who might have been strong enough to
make their own independent political choices.

“It might not be far from the truth if we say some people voted in July
213 elections to save their lives, limbs and property. They wanted to
avoid a repeat of 2008,” the CCJP told Parliament

It said fear is present constantly in Zimbabwean politics.

MDC spokesperson , Obert Gutu, said the CCJP report was “very much
poignant and indeed, thoroughly on point.”

“It is a fact that the Zanu PF regime has been harvesting from fear
arising out of the brutal and terrorist crackdown against opposition
political party activists and supporters in the June 2008 presidential
election run-off campaign,” Gutu told the Daily News.

“As the MDC, we have consistently argued that the people of Zimbabwe,
particularly in rural areas, are routinely subjected to physical beatings
and torture including emotional and psychological violence by Zanu PF
thugs; particularly during election periods.

“As a party, we have tried and we are still trying our level best to
galvanise our supporters not to easily succumb to threats of violence and
intimidation by Zanu PF thugs and hoodlums.

Zimbabweans are generally a very brave and resilient people but then, most
if not all perpetrators of politically motivated violence have always been
protected by the establishment. These political hoodlums and thugs are
roaming the streets scot-free.

“They have not been arrested nor in any way, brought to book by the
relevant law enforcement agencies. These thugs are virtually untouchable,
they are a law unto themselves.”

Gutu said the MDC will continue to engage the electorate and explain to
them that “if we turn out in our millions to register to vote and also to
cast our votes on polling day, we can successfully exorcise the ghost of
rigging as well as the ghost of violence and intimidation.”

“We should be able to win in spite of rigged elections (wire). The wire
trajectory is the new normal in our political discourse. Zanu PF is beyond

“The Zanu PF regime will never, ever reform itself out of power. As such,
we have to be versatile and devise strategies that will ensure that we
will win next year’s elections even if they are rigged,” Gutu said.


  • comment-avatar

    Who really cares Zimbabwe is doomed anyway.The elections will be a sham and rigged.The country will not get support or finance from other countries and our politicians still seem to have no clue.Or should I say they dont want to do the right thing.God does say turn away from your wicked ways ,humble yourselves and ask for forgiveness and I will heal your land.I think Zimbabwe has a long way to go.