Zanu PF stifles MDC rural campaign

Source: Zanu PF stifles MDC rural campaign – DailyNews Live

Fungi Kwaramba      2 May 2017

HARARE – Suspected Zanu PF supporters are stifling and blocking MDC’s
rural campaign by intimidating villagers who dare associate with it, the
opposition party spokesperson Obert Gutu has said.

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC recently deployed its urban MPs to the rural
constituencies – where the ruling Zanu PF has always received most of its
votes – to drum up support ahead of the 2018 elections.

According to Gutu, villagers are afraid of associating with the MDC
because of intimidation by the suspected Zanu PF functionaries.

He told the Daily News yesterday that the opposition faces an almost
insurmountable task in engaging the rural folk as Zanu PF supporters have
sealed off some areas while others are afraid of supporting the opposition
fearing expulsion from their villages by village heads and other
traditional leaders who have been co-opted into the ruling party

“The feedback we are getting is that most, if not all, rural areas remain
outposts of Zanu PF tyranny and intimidation. Villagers are living in fear
of their lives because they are constantly reminded that supporting any
opposition political parties, particularly the MDC, is treasonous and that
they will be beaten up and victimised if they attend any opposition
political parties’ rallies and other functions,” Gutu said.

However, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said if the MDC is facing
challenges in rural areas then they should seek protection from the

“They must report those cases to the police because they are the law
enforcement agents,” said Khaya Moyo.

In the past, particularly in the 2013 harmonised elections, the MDC has
always had a poor showing in rural areas, losing heavily to Zanu PF and
analysts say that is not about to change, unless the opposition engages
traditional leaders -who are key in convincing the rural electorate.

On his own part, Tsvangirai has traversed the country trying to engage
community leaders and demystify the “myth” that he is a creation of
western governments.

The MDC also alleges that even if their supporters report such cases to
the police, no action is taken.

According to Gutu, there is pervasive fear in rural areas and there is
need to tread carefully otherwise those courageous enough to declare
support for the opposition might end up brutalised as was the case in
2008, when opposition supporters were reportedly “killed and persecuted”
for simply voting for Tsvangirai.

“People in rural areas need to be liberated from the yoke of Zanu PF
mental slavery and thuggish political intimidation. They really need to be
helped. They told our MPs who are on the rural outreach programme that
their lives are in jeopardy, if they are suspected of supporting the MDC.

“Villagers are sick and tired of the Zanu PF regime’s false promises and
violent methods of political mobilisation but they are helpless because
Zanu PF thugs are running amok. There is total impunity and perpetrators
of politically motivated violence remain scot-free. Even the police are
afraid of apprehending these political hoodlums and thugs,” claimed Gutu.

One of the MDC MPs who was dispatched to Chiwundura in Midlands province,
Sesel Zvidzai, told the Daily News that villagers are scared of attending
MDC meetings because food hand-outs are also used as a weapon to whip them
into line.

“…there is a lot of fear…people are denied food so it is really hard
to convince them to rally behind the opposition,” he said.