Tuesday, 28 August 2018

VIOLENCE : MDC SUPPORTERS ABANDON HOMES


POST-ELECTION violence has reportedly displaced several opposition MDC Alliance supporters countrywide despite calls for tolerance, with reports that many families have abandoned their homes for fear of reprisals from suspected Zanu PF activists, NewsDay has learned.

It is understood that intimidation of opposition supporters was rife in the countryside as some families mainly from Mashonaland East and Central provinces were reportedly living in the bush after an onslaught by some known Zanu PF activists.

This came as President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his inauguration on Sunday called for peace and tolerance in the post-election period, although some Zanu PF officials were accused of running terror campaigns against opposition members.

Counselling Services Unit national programmes director Fidelis Mudimu said the situation was unacceptable and urged all stakeholders, including the police and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, to do all they could to stop the violence.

“This is a destructive trail. As long as there is violence, there won’t be development and this is a complete contrast to the mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business,” Mudimu said.

Human Rights Watch Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said action must be taken against those who were committing offences in the name of Zanu PF.

“It’s now time for the Mnangagwa government to walk the talk on the protection of human rights,” he said.

“It’s not enough to say we are preaching peace when people are living in the bushes. There is no need for retribution. Mnangagwa must demonstrate his respect for human rights so that all those who abuse people in the name of Zanu PF are arrested. It’s now time to see action because talk is cheap. There is no need for retribution.”

MDC Alliance chairperson Morgen Komichi dismissed Mnangagwa’s calls as political rhetoric meant to hoodwink the international community into believing that he was preaching peace.

“All that indicates retribution, lack of freedom in the country. There is no freedom after voting and what Mnangagwa talks about are just words to hoodwink the international community, yet on the ground, you have examples of rising cases of victimisation. Those people have families and that abuse is affecting a lot of people. The abuses are actually on the rise and this is contrary to what Mnangagwa says when seeking recognition,” Komichi said yesterday.

Komichi urged law enforcers to boldly take a stand against perpetrators of violence.

But Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said he does not condone violence and all such cases should be reported to the police.

“We are not law enforcement agents and we have always said on several occasions that we want unity and peace. The President has said that even yesterday [during inauguration]. So if there are malcontents, they must be reported to the police. We don’t want to hear of any form of violence pre and post elections,” he said.

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba last night said she was yet to receive the report. NewsDay yesterday, however, caught up with a group of people from Mt Darwin and Goromonzi North who fled victimisation from known Zanu PF supporters and sought shelter in Harare.

Some of the victims said they slept in the bush for several nights before they were rescued by civil society organisations and whisked away to safety.

“Last Wednesday, when the Constitutional Court was sitting to decide on the court challenge, a group of known youth officers, war veterans and Zanu PF activists started going around telling opposition people to prepare for disaster in the event that President Mnangagwa wins,” one of the victims from Chakoma village in Mt Darwin West said.

“So on Friday, when the court handed down its judgment, the same people moved around the village in the dead of the night singing and shouting names of the people they said they were going to deal with.

“Some of us were victims of the 2008 political violence and we knew what that meant. During that period, I lost my vehicle, cattle and other belongings. Personally, I reacted fast and moved to a nearby mountain along with my Form 3 child.”

Many opposition MDC-T party supporters lost their lives.

Others were tortured and maimed, while thousands lost their property and were internally displaced as political violence peaked during the 2008 presidential poll run-off campaign.

He added that in no time, the group pounced on his homestead, forcing the rest of the family members to flee into a nearby bush, where they stayed until their rescue on Sunday.

Others said they left their young children behind and they were fearful of consequences that could befall them. They said they hoped the culprits would be brought to book and abide by Mnangagwa’s pledge for peace.

In Goromonzi North, losing opposition local government candidate for ward 13 Tongogara Machimbidze said he almost lost his fingers when a soldier attacked him.

He said at one point, he was ordered to disembark from a commuter omnibus and assaulted in full view of other passengers over his opposition stance.

In Muzarabani North constituency, 40 families were said to have fled from their homes amid fears of threats and intimidation by suspected Zanu PF militia.

Some civic society groups battling to provide safe accommodation for the victims who spoke to NewsDay yesterday said the victims of post-election violence were mainly polling agents in the just-ended elections.

“We have people who fled in different places after Zanu PF thugs threatened to torture MDC Alliance polling agents and their families. Some have gone to Harare, and some have even crossed the border into Mozambique,” the officials said.

NewsDay also heard that some MDC Alliance supporters could have fled their homes as a precautionary measure.

“We attended Muzarabani North after hearing that people fled although no formal report has been made and we figured out that the alleged families fled after seeing a social media message on WhatsApp that threatened them with torture, but we are yet to know where it originated from,” the civic society organisations said. Newsday

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