Electoral malpractices rampant ahead of Chimanimani West by-election
By Byron Mutingwende
Former Legislator for Chimanimani West Constituency, Munacho Mutezo has accused the ruling party Zanu PF of using dirty tactics in order to retain the seat through hook and crook. In an interview with Spiked ZW Online, Mutezo highlighted a number of irregularities including denial of food and inputs to members of opposition political parties, intimidation and threats, heavy police presence and forcing people to profess illiteracy in the ballot boxes.
“The independent candidate, Edmore Mtetwa has been the target of Zanu PF intolerance of a free and fair electoral environment. For many times he has been denied the right to hold meetings and in a few instances that he is allowed, the meetings are often interrupted. In the constituency that has for long been neglected, there has been a sudden influx of tractors, food, borehole drilling and upgrading of roads by Zanu PF as the elections beckon,” Mutezo said.
The former legislator, now a senior official in the Zimbabwe People First party led by the former Vice President Joice Mujuru urged the electorate to be resolute despite the harassment and intimidation.
To corroborate Mutezo claims, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) on Monday 21 November 2016, condemned the victimisation, intimidation of voters and partisan food distribution in Chimanimani West ahead of the national assembly by-election to be held on 26 November 2016.
“ZPP and other concerned civic organisations are gravely worried about the risk of citizens in the constituency being victimised and disenfranchised. It is alleged that Zanu PF, through village heads, has been intimidating the villagers by making announcements to the effect that Zanu PF supporters are the only ones who should vote at the by-election.”
ZPP said it was disturbed by the fact that Zanu PF Provincial Youth Chairperson, Mubuso Chingono was also allegedly threatening known opposition activists that on election day there will be people ready to vote on their behalf.
To that effect the ZPP implored the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to be strict about who qualifies to be an assisted voter.
There were reports that at Nhedziwa Secondary School in ward 4, there was distribution of rice and sugar with only Zanu PF supporters and villagers who produced voter registration slips benefitting.
It was alleged that the Zanu PF local leadership turned away beneficiaries that have not been attending the party’s meetings.
In Nyanyadzi (ward 8) at Rufaro business centre Zondai Mutezo and Gladman
Mutezo tore a T-shirt for a man who was distributing fliers with information on one of the election candidates, Edmore Mtetwa.
Chinguno, in the company of state security agents, has also been accused of visiting campaigners of contesting candidates and ordering them to stop their campaigns.
Uniformed forces like members of the Zimbabwean National Army and Zimbabwe Republic Police have also been spotted driving around Chimanimani West.
Over the last two weeks, the sudden increase of army and police presence in the constituency is intimidating and curtails the activities of contesting candidates as their meetings are disrupted.
Mtetwa, the independent candidate, will be contesting against Nokuthula Matsikenyere of Zanu PF, National Constitutional Assembly candidate Pesanai
Musakaruka and Peter Gudyanga of the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe.
The Chimanimani West seat fell vacant after Munacho Mutezo was fired from Zanu PF over his association with Joice Mujuru, leader of Zimbabwe People First.