via Tsvangirai was right after all – DailyNews Live 15 June 2015 by Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Plumes of dust rise as we trudge on the treacherous road deeper into the heartland of Hurungwe West, the place where a dream was deferred for independent candidate Temba Mliswa on June 10.
It is now public knowledge that Keith Guzah, the Zanu PF candidate, edged Mliswa in the fiercely-contested by-election for Hurungwe West, but on the ground, odds were stacked heavily against the fiery independent candidate.
We saw long serpentine queues, we heard tales of voters who had been turned away, and we came face-to-face with unregistered trucks that prior to the elections raised a lot of dust as they crisscrossed these forgotten lands of Hurungwe.
In Zanu PF-style, school children raised their small clenched fists as we passed by, heading to a polling station at Rengwe Primary School after we had received an intriguing lead.
At the school, tucked away from the public glare, we heard the incredible news that village heads were herding their subjects to polling stations, shadowing them as they cast their votes.
At this polling station alone, over 120 people were turned away and dozens were assisted to vote, albeit with strangers.
Again at this polling station, surrounded with umbrella-shaped trees, we also heard that Zanu PF polling agents had been frantic all day jotting names of each and every person who came to vote.
Thus, the picture became clear, people were shepherded to polling stations exactly what Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo had said as Zanu PF launched a brutal terror campaign against Mliswa.
Now it makes a lot of sense why the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai decided not to take part in the sham elections. What is the point in taking part in a contest where the outcome is predetermined.
Voter apathy, voter intimidation, voter fatigue, voter rejection and eventual dejection characterised this election where we witnessed first hand the time-horned rigging skills of those in power.
Many raised their red-coloured fingers and blurted whenever we stopped, “we voted for Zanu PF”. Fear too was etched on their faces.
Long forgotten by Zanu PF, the telephone network here is either poor or nonexistent and thus it came as a surprise when we received a message that a man sympathetic to Mliswa had been beaten, yes, on the election date.
“There were a lot of skirmishes unnecessarily,” Mliswa said. “Some of my supporters were beaten, an Isuzu registration ADA 1963 abducted Bhora Mponda from ward 24. He is still missing.
“A headman was beaten in Mutore while another guy was brandishing a gun intimidating people at Zvimonzva.”
Tales of a beaten man perhaps but civic organisations like Heal Zimbabwe also noted with grave concern that the elections were far from being credible. Prior to the elections, Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, had set the tone, spewing a lot of bluster.
By noon on voting day, 36 people had been assisted to vote at Chiroti polling station and many more had voted with the discredited voter’s registration slips.
At Nyadara polling station, 93 people also failed to vote even though they adamantly claimed and even swore by their few worldly possessions that they had seen with their eyes their names on the voters’ roll.
And Tsvangirai has always harped about these inadequacies — assisted voters, a shambolic voters’ roll, the staffing of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) with state operatives — it was there in Hurungwe.
In the twilight as we sped back to the newsroom, leaving behind these barren lands of Hurungwe, it became clear that these men superintending over our sorry lives are consumed in power retention.
They have a tendency to do even the immoral, they can beat, steal, kill, lie and well, do just everything to remain in power and live in its glistering trappings.
Guzah is now the MP for Hurungwe West and Mliswa might as well cry himself hoarse but knowing that in a free and fair poll, he would have easily won.