Rogue soldiers terrorise, threaten villagers in ZimBy: Everson Mushava
Zimbabwean Soldiers are reportedly terrorising and intimidating villagers in some parts of Gokwe in the Midlands, where they are routinely addressing Zanu PF campaign rallies threatening “war” if the party loses in the forthcoming general elections.
Villagers told NewsDay in separate interviews over the weekend that the soldiers were encamped at Mapfungautsi Plateau from where they were conducting several rallies at business centres and schools around the vast farming district.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Colonel Alfios Makotore could not deny nor confirm the fact that soldiers were acting as Zanu PF political commissars and threatening bloodshed should villagers vote for the MDC-T, demanding written questions.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who has repeatedly described State security sector reforms as a “no-go” area, denied that the party had engaged soldiers to lead its campaign.
“I have not received such reports. I think there are people pretending to be soldiers. I don’t think that our soldiers could get that far,” Gumbo said.
However, the villagers said the group of rogue soldiers had encamped over a month ago.
This comes at a time military chiefs and Zanu PF bigwigs have been repeatedly threatening anarchy if MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wins the next presidential elections that Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe wants held next March.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora yesterday confirmed his party had received several reports of heavy military presence in most parts of the country, particularly Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central and West provinces.
“The party has received reports that some soldiers are intimidating villagers and threatening them with war if they do not vote for Zanu PF in the forthcoming elections,” Mwonzora said.
“That is why we are calling for security sector reforms. We will engage the international community such as Sadc, the African Union and even the United Nations. That is why we have always said President Mugabe is indicating left, but turning right. He preaches peace and acts war. He is not bona fide in his calls for peace.”
A Gokwe villager who declined to be named for security reasons said two soldiers (names supplied) had been terrorising villagers in Chinyudze and Mudzongwe areas.
“They came as if they were attending to a mine wrangle involving one Nkomazana, but then started calling for rallies threatening people. They say if Zanu PF wants a ‘No’ vote in the constitutional referendum, that is what the villagers should vote for,” the villager claimed.
“Last Thursday, they were addressing villagers at Mazalahedwa business centre where (soldier’s name supplied) seemed to have gone into a trance, claiming being possessed by the spirit of Chaminuka. He threatened to tear everyone apart if they voted for the MDC-T in the forthcoming elections.”
Recently, there were reports that more military personnel were now in Zanu PF structures and would be central in the party’s election campaigning particularly in Manicaland and Masvingo, the former Zanu PF strongholds where the party suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the MDC-T in the March 2008 polls.
Meanwhile, The Herald yesterday reported that Tsvangirai warned traditional chiefs on Saturday, while addressing a small crowd of MDC-T supporters in Chiweshe, that his party will deal with chiefs it purports support Zanu-PF if it wins next year’s harmonised elections.
“To the chiefs, I want to say the current Constitution does not allow you to be involved in politics. So, if there are any chiefs who say they are Zanu-PF, I want to warn you that you will regret your action because after the next election, it will be us in power,” said Tsvangirai.
He, however, did not specify the action he would take against the chiefs.
Traditional leaders have, however, in the past defended the support they render to Zanu-PF and Mugabe saying the party and its leader had been steadfast in defending the country’s hard-won independence.
The chiefs have also said they would never support any party that fronts for the erstwhile colonisers.
Turning to next year’s elections, Tsvangirai said the general elections scheduled for March next year should be peaceful.
“We should draw a line and say never again should we allow such things (violence) to be repeated. Violence will not be allowed in next year’s elections and I want to guarantee that there would be free and fair elections.
“We want SADC, the AU and UN to come and observe the elections,” he said.
– allafrica.com, newsday.co.zw and The Herald