The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) says the ruling Zanu PF has set up structures meant to intimidate and silence people in rural areas ahead of the 2023 general elections.
In a monthly monitoring report for April, ZPP said it had observed incidences pointing to the intimidation of people in various parts of the country.
“ZPP can confirm the existence of Zanu PF structures meant to intimidate and silence people in rural areas ahead of the 2023 elections and this is more prevalent in Mashonaland East, Central and West provinces, where the organization has recorded a combined 77 cases.
“A few examples include an incident in Murehwa North, where a Zanu PF Councillor Masimba Gumira gathered villagers to celebrate his victory in the 26 March by-elections. He then ordered the punishment of anyone seen wearing yellow which is the colour of the CCC. He threatened the loss of life of those who might want to deviate from voting for his party.
“Gumira’s words cannot be taken as bluffing as people have been killed in the past for simply associating with the opposition. To confirm the systematic nature of the closing down of space for the opposition, particularly the CCC, in another incident, Zanu PF Chairperson Takesure Kashesha told party supporters at Duku Business Centre in Ward 10, Murehwa North, to create a no-go zone for CCC supporters in the area. Kashesha ordered youths to mount road blocks and burn any unknown or CCC vehicles attempting to enter Ward 10,” reads the report.
The report adds “In Mashonaland West, a man was evicted from the butchery premises he was renting for hosting a CCC supporters’ braai at the butchery premises and in Murehwa South, a Zanu PF supporter made death threats to a woman who had observed elections under the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe. One Ricky Chiwara told the female observer that by participating in elections, she was part of the regime change agenda by nongovernmental organisations.
“This unfortunate incident not only confirmed the toxicity of the political environment for women, but also highlighted the deep-seated attempt by the Zanu PF government to cripple the good work of Non-Governmental Organisations.”
In light of this, ZPP called for the strengthening of the Electoral Act as a way of promoting engagements that hold political parties accountable
“There is need for the strengthening of the Electoral Act to foster Multi Party Liaison Committees to become a culture that promotes engagement among political stakeholders and not just spring into action at election time. The political temperatures are, with no doubt, not going to recede considering that Zimbabwe is due to hold elections next year.
“In that regard, ZPP makes strong recommendations for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), through its Multi-Party Liaison Committee, to strengthen its ability to hold political parties to account without fear or favour,” ZPP said.