Election violence victims cry, wait in vain for help

via Election violence victims cry, wait in vain for help November 27, 2013 by Michelle Chifamba NewsDay

The narrow steep paths into Chikwaka village in Goromonzi take you through vast dusty and sandy tracts of land which lie bare and mostly unexplored, a snapshot of Africa’s scorching heat.

Down the sloppy terrain, a man guiding a bicycle on either side, looks pensive, his dark, shiny, sweaty forehead almost giving away his frustration, and he says loudly: “More needs to be done to improve the lives of the desperate and hopeless Zimbabweans like me.”

The 40-year-old man, who declined to be named, is one of many Zimbabweans who live in this part of the country described by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) as a ‘hot spot zone’ due to the high level of political violence that took place in Mashonaland East province ahead of general elections in 2008.

In its May 2008 report, ZPP reported a national escalation of election violence of more than 6 000 cases recorded in one month.

Five years on, the government of national unity formed by Zanu PF and the MDC parties following those disputed polls has come and gone, and what critics say was a relatively peaceful but “stolen” 2013 election left many MDC supporters and victims of previous election violence helpless.

Many are crying, and waiting in vain for help, particularly from their party of choice, the MDC of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The report compiled by Heal Zimbabwe Trust on the 2013 harmonised election says: “Though the election was not tainted with the violence of the magnitude of the 2008, the absence of violence does not reflect the absence of fear.”

An air of fear, rejection, bleak and uncertain future hovers around the villagers. Both male and female victims vehemently decline to reveal their identities, their reason- fear of the unknown.

Seated by the door of his old thatched mud hut, in his tattered red T- shirt, a man exclaims: “We were extremely shocked by the election outcome. This is not what we had anticipated in the election.”

He vividly remembers the times he and other villagers escaped from the hands of the political oppressors who sought his life and that of others who supported the opposition party during the run-up to the controversial June 27, 2008 election.

Counting his losses, the man narrated how the party that almost cost him life had failed to provide simple things like an election post-mortem which maps neither the way forward nor a token of appreciation for their efforts in supporting the party.

“The colonialists were better than these men, when we voted them into power they went there and forgot us. The white colonialists created jobs, now we writhe in poverty because we chased the white man from these lands. At least if we could have loans to start small businesses now things would be better, because there are no factories to work for,” narrated the man.

Tracing the lives of the victims of 2008 election violence, there is a wave of mixed reactions though a common denominator — ‘fear’ — shrouds the village.

Some like 63 year Mbuya Getrude Mushonga, who was severely beaten during the election violence era, have become vigilant in the face of the new government.

“There is no need to cry over split milk. Although it is a struggle and the memories of torture are still fresh, we have to accept what is on the table and move on with our lives,” the old woman boldly says with a grin.

Trudging the sandy paths with his worn-out leather boots, 67 year old Bopoto Nyandoro, political party activist and defender for human rights, says he still yearns for compensation for the brutalities he suffered five years ago.

“I submitted the relevant paper work to the lawyers but am still to get the money which was promised to me and my family through courts. I do not know maybe they have forgotten about me. But I will not keep quiet people must come out in the open and claim their rights.”

However, since its dismal loss in the recent harmonised election, the MDC-T has become cagey with information dissemination and the welfare department denies the allegations against it from provinces that is has failed supporters.

“The welfare department carters for the people who are in dire need of assistance and as a party we provide assistance to the families and to the people who will be incarcerated, in police cells and who had their houses destroyed and their property burnt, not the general membership,” Brighton Matimba from the MDC welfare department said.

“We have provided some of the victims of the 2008 elections because we have channeled the resources through the province of which we do not know that for those ones who are in that particular area if they did not get or if they got,” he added.

Burdens carried by people of Zimbabwe barely hundred days after the harmonised election that took place on a chilly Wednesday of 31 July 2013.A long narrow road to freedom, as men in torn overalls and worn-out farmer shoes trudge the narrow roads to their gardens to escape from their poverty as they toil the hard soil.

While cattle and goats graze on dry brown grass. On their pencil legs they carry their ribbed bellies to the watering holes which are now close to dryness.

Thus, while grappling with the disputed election result, many victims of the 2008 bloodbath anticipate bitter and sour days to come.

While many in this part of the country which lies 60 kilometers outside Harare wait in vain for answers to their bitter life, many across the country share the sentiments.

In Midlands province, thre are many people like 43 year old Evans Gambiza (not real name), a former police officer, whose strong support for the MDC-T cost him his carrier. Jobless and writhing in poverty, the man is still hopeful.

“If the party could give prominence to the grassroots because that is where strong and dedicated supporters are. We are not employed and there is need for the party to support us with loans to get our small businesses running. However it whatever circumstances I will support it to the better end,” Gambiza said.

Most villagers commended, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee- (Jomic) which ceased its operations soon after the harmonized elections for enabling political party maturity and tolerance hence peace prevailed during the run-up to the election.

“I would like to commend the presence of Jomic during the election period because they managed to maintain peace, probably that was the reason why the election was less violent. Although there are no cases of violence that have erupted since the announcement of the election results, we just live in fear of the unknown,” a 52-year-old woman.

At a time when the whole nation is battling to come to terms with the election result, time waits for no one, more than 100 days in, the new government life has to move forward.

In the eyes of Silvia Chikerema, 57, as long as peace prevails better days are yet to come.

“If I am able to move around peacefully without fear, I do not mind. The new government must implement working policies and provide better prospects,” she said.