Pre by-election violence and intimidation overshadowed Zanu-PF’s convincing win in the weekend’s by-elections held across the country.
Zanu PF won the six rural district council by-elections, as per the results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
The by-elections were being held in Insiza Ward 4, Matobo Ward 2, Buhera Ward 24, Mutare Ward 18, Takawira Ward 6 in Midlands and Guruve Ward 4.
However, in the lead up to the elections, there were several reports of politically motivated violence by both the ruling party and the main opposition , citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
On the election day, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network reported that some isolated pockets of violence and intimidations.
“As of midday, the political environment in some wards was reported to be peaceful, while a few incidents were observed and reported by the observers. For example, at 0800hrs, at Sikhamaswe polling station in Matobo Ward 2, ZANU-PF members allegedly mounted a desk with ZANU-PF regalia and banners on exhibition less than 300 meters away from the polling station,” ZESN said.
It reported that a few youths were reportedly manning the desk and after voting some people were allegedly passing through the desk.
“After one hour, ZEC mobile supervisor officials and officers of the ZRP intervened and dismissed the grouping outside the polling station area and also removed a ZANU-PF poster which was within the polling station area,” the report reads.
In Insiza and Matobo both in Matabeleland South, the by-elections were preceded by political violence where suspected Zanu PF supporters attacked Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members while they were conducting party business.
Bulawayo proportional representation MP Jasmine Toffa is currently receiving treatment at a private health facility in Bulawayo after she sustained serious injuries during the attack where cars were also damaged.
“At Tudi Primary School, Matobo, the situation was reportedly tense as people were slowly gathering in groups away from the polling station after voting. However, as of midday, there was no incident of violence or rowdy behavior reported.”
ZESN called on political parties to continue to call on their supporters to tolerant divergent political interests in a peaceful manner to ensure and respect the enjoyment of civil and political rights by all citizens enshrined in the Constitution and to enhance the credibility of elections in Zimbabwe
The Network also called on the police to investigate the incidents of violence and tensions that marred the pre and polling environment.
Meanwhile, government spokesperson and ZanuPF member, Nick Mangwana seemed to suggest that the ruling party is on course to winning the 2023 elections judging by the prevailing results on various by-elections.
“Elections in Zimbabwe have been going a certain way. Going by yesterday’s (Saturday) results, they are still going that way. What makes you think they turn a different way in 9 months?” Mangwana said.