Zimbabwe female opposition supporters fear victimisation ahead of elections


Fungai Mavhura, 41 braved the biting cold to travel early in the morning from Mukumbura on a rugged bus to attend an opposition rally in Bindura last week.

The excitement of attending her party’s campaign launch exceeded the pain of morning travel.

Bloodshot eyes and hair unkept, Mavhura, a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) member was one of the first to arrive at the venue, only to realize the rally had been banned by the police.

Despite the ban, there remained hope that the court would rule in her party’s favour and allow the rally to go on.

But like a dozen other CCC supporters, clad in their yellow attire, she impatiently waited for the ruling for another five hours at the Bindura Civil Court.

Singing and chanting revolutionary songs outside court, the CCC supporters along with Mavhura protested the court’s decision to uphold the ban.

This was the party’s third rally to be banned in seven days.

“It is like we are living in slavery-like we are not Zimbabweans. We are a registered party and we have the right to campaign freely. This election must be free and fair, but we are not seeing that on the campaign trail,” Mavhura said.

She recounted how campaigning for her party has become a tedious affair as suspected Zanu PF members disrupt meetings in her village in Mukumbura.

“We are being barred from campaigning all the time, and it seems Zanu Pf is the only party which is allowed to do so. Zanu PF is giving the police and magistrates what to say. This must stop,” she said.

Mavhura said the police should be impartial ahead of crucial polls set for 23 August.

“The police must not be captured. Zanu PF does not even book rallies. I once told the police to stop what it is doing. Mnangagwa must stop doing what he is doing, we must campaign freely in this country,” she lamented.

A leaked police memo to provincial commanders ordered authorities to sanction rallies without compelling reasons for the denial.

The police have been at the centre of the controversy, with political analysts saying the election could fail the credibility test if political parties are not allowed to campaign freely.

Apart from the repression on the campaign trail, opposition female supporters fear victimization ahead of the polls.

With a pseudo-intelligence group, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) already on the prowl in rural Zimbabwe there is growing fear that the intimidation of the 2008 elections could rear its ugly head.

FAZ is reportedly keeping records of villagers at Zanu PF rallies, with the defiant facing their wrath.

In Chirumhanzu District, one has to notify FAZ if they are to leave the village for the city.

Bonus Chifamba, 46 of Mazowe recounted how intimidation is likely to affect the opposition in her district.

“Where I come from, it is a crime to support the opposition. They are threatening to beat us up, they have been on our necks since campaign season started. People are now afraid to associate themselves with us in the communities,” Chifamba said.

She said authorities should respect the rule of law and allow freedom of choice.

“There is no democracy in Zimbabwe. Many teams participate at the world cup but here in Zimbabwe one player wants to go it alone. I do not think these elections will be free and fair, if we are being muzzled like this. People are going to be threatened and intimidated,” Chifamba mourned.

According to the Afrobarometer, at least 70% of Zimbabweans are afraid of becoming political violence victims during the upcoming general elections. CITE

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