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Pummeling of rural elderly signals bloody 2023 polls



THE savage assault of elderly citizens in Murehwa over the weekend by suspected Zanu PF activists, which evokes memories of violent 2002 and 2008 polls, is yet another signal that this year’s general elections could be potentially bloody.


Political analyst Professor Stephen Chan told The NewsHawks that the Zanu PF government is inclined to turn to violence ahead of this year’s elections by the need to cover up for its failures.

“I do fear that the government, having no economic success record on which it can run, and with a continuing outlook of electricity failures, will use intimidation and violence as its default strategy,” he said.

Several villagers in Murehwa were left nursing injuries after suspected Zanu PF members attacked Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters in the district’s Ward 4, highlighting the vulnerability of rural opposition supporters.

The villagers had gathered at the homestead of a party member identified as Seremani when the hit squad stormed the rural home before interrogating and later assaulting them with logs.

The incident shocked many Zimbabweans given the age of the victims and the fact that culturally it is considered taboo to disrespect elderly people, never mind assaulting them.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said indications are that Zanu PF is geared for a violent 2023 election campaign based on the recent Murehwa violence which he described as a test-run to what the ruling party is brewing ahead of the polls.

“The violence that we saw in Murehwa is indicative of the Zanu PF strategy in 2023. It’s a strategy that is centred on fear-mongering, violence, intimidation and threats. This is based on the failures by the party and government to improve the livelihoods of the majority of the people,” Mukundu said.

“Zimbabwe still has the highest inflation, far higher than countries even at war like Ukraine, Somalia and even countries that have gone through shocking economic turbulence like Venezuela.

“This is a symptom of the poor leadership that Zimbabwe has had to endure since 2017 when Emmerson Mnangagwa took over and of course before that under Robert Mugabe.

“In the absence of tangibles that demonstrate improvements to people’s lives, Zanu PF has no alternative but to use violence as a political weapon. So what we saw in Murehwa was a test run. The party is deploying its militias to intimidate people and showcase what they intend to do in 2023.”

Ahead of the 26 March by-elections last year several cases of violence were recorded countrywide, with CCC supporters largely being victims.

CCC activist Mboneni Ncube was stabbed to death at a rally in Kwekwe in February last year, after Zanu PF activists stormed a CCC rally while party president Nelson Chamisa was addressing supporters.

The assailants, who were later arrested while hiding at a lodge run by former State Security minister Owen Ncube in Mbizo 11, attacked CCC supporters with stones and machetes.

Members of the CCC security sprang into action to ensure Chamisa’s safety but they could not save Ncube who was stabbed in the abdomen by a spear-wielding Zanu PF activist. 

In August last year four journalists were attacked by Zanu PF supporters in Chitekete ahead of the Gokwe-Kabuyuni parliamentary by-election while filming Chamisa’s motorcade that was being blocked from going to the campaign venue.

It was being blocked by a convoy of about 15 Zanu PF vehicles, which formed a barricade on the way to Chitekete Shopping Centre, where the rally was scheduled.

In the same month, armed anti-riot police officers sealed off all entrances into Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, where Chamisa was billed to address thousands of his supporters ahead of the Marondera Central by-election that was eventually won by the opposition party’s Caston Matewu.

In Insiza and Matobo ahead of some local authorities by-elections late last year, suspected Zanu PF youths left a violent trail of destruction that saw CCC Bulawayo metropolitan legislator Jasmine Toffa hospitalised.

In October 2021, when Chamisa was meeting opinion leaders and traditional chiefs in Manicaland, his party alleged that a bullet hit through one window of the car he was travelling in and went out through another. The party described the incident as an assassination attempt.

The incidents were part of a pattern of gross human rights violations.

Every citizen of Zimbabwe is protected under chapter 2 of the constitution on freedom of association and other basic human rights.

Contacted for comment, Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa, speaking from Dubai where is on holiday, said the party abhors any forms of violence and urged those aggrieved to report any cases to the police. He blamed CCC for what he described as false flag accusations regarding the Murehwa violence as he insisted his party members were not involved.

 “Social media false flag accusations are the new stock in trade of a CCC that is running out of electoral steam as the national plebiscite beckons. CCC is bent on mining the demented fright of its frustrated post-imperialists of the West as they face a faltering agenda,” Mutsvangwa said.

“As a party we are always wary of the abuse of social media to further agendas of detractors who are primarily driven by sulking post-imperialists in the West. For four decades, they persist in smarting from the defeat of white minority racist Rhodesia, their cat’s paw of plunder of our God-given natural endowments.

“These sponsor a treachery-prone CCC opposition and multi-faced phalanx of NGOs all to tarnish the image of their politico-military nemesis that is Zanu PF, the party of the permanent Zimbabwe revolution,” he said.

Mutsvangwa also told The NewsHawks that Zanu PF is on course to winning the general elections and does not need to use violence to secure victory. He argued that Zanu PF and Mnangagwa had delivered “palpable prosperity in the second republic”.

“The beleaguered enemies and detractors are desperately resorting to fake abductions and other simulations as they try to soil the good name of Zanu PF,” he said.

“These antics that hark back to Selous Scout-Skuza murderous wartime agenda will not wash with our conscientious populace and a vigilant and supportive African continent.

“That said, we put it on record once again for unmistakable clarity. Zanu PF abhors and condemns all forms of political violence. H.E. President EDM (Mnangagwa) is ever on record imploring to this effect as we ready for 2023 harmonised elections,” said the former war veterans’ leader.

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