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Villagers in Chihota forced to attend ZANU PF rallies
Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ)
June 30, 2011

This week the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), held two community meetings in Chihota's Ward 10 and Ward 14 to raise awareness on the constitution-making process, provide an update on progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement reforms as well as prepare communities ahead of the planned referendum and elections. Participants complained that they are being forced to attend political rallies convened by ZANU PF including meetings held by ZANU PF MP for Marondera West Rtd Brig Ambrose Mutinhiri.

'We are forced to attend ZANU PF rallies. If you stay at home you have your name entered into a register and they tell you that they will deal with you come election time," said one female participant. She added that: "ZANU PF members can meet anywhere, anytime even without police clearance but if we want to meet we are first required to tell the sabhuku (village head) or seek police clearance."

Most participants pointed out that it has become increasingly difficult for them to wear their party's (MDC) regalia and hold meetings without being victimised. Participants expressed disappointment over the way civil and political rights continue to be trampled even with the existence of the government of national unity. "

Traditional leaders (sabhukus, madzishe) were also castigated by participants for intimidating people by forcing them to attend ZANU PF meetings. Participants were of the view that traditional leaders should be impartial and should represent community interests rather than the interests of ZANU PF. One participant was of the opinion that the new constitution should do away with the office of traditional leaders completely as the institution is inimical to the practice of democratic governance because they are not elected and hence they do not represent the interests of any particular group. One participant had this to say: "Mubumbiro idzva remutemo hatidi masabhuku nemadzishe nekuti varikutsigira bato rimwe chete reZANU PF" (In the new Constitution we should do away with the institution of traditional leaders because it is biased in favour of ZANU PF).

Participants also expressed concern over abuse of the Constituency Development Funds (CDF). In Ward 14, one participant said that the Member of Parliament of the area, Brigadier Mutinhiri, had brought a truck load of door frames and window frames to the area and these were intended to be used in the construction of the blocks at Furamera Primary and Secondary Schools. However, after the meeting, attended by ZANU PF supporters only, the material was transported back to some area and up to date, none of it has been used to develop the school. Participants called for transparency and accountability in the use of public resources from the leaders. They also called for responsiveness from the leaders to the needs of the community and vowed that they vote only for Councilors, MPs and a President who can listen to their grievances and stop victimization and harassment by politicians and youths.

The need for a clear roadmap before elections was also an issue that participants felt was important. According to the participants, elections in this country will never be free and fair if they are going to be held under the same conditions as those in the past decade. Participants felt that security sector reforms are very important if the elections in Zimbabwe are to be credible. Participants also said that during past elections, the military was used to victimise people through Operation Wavhotera papi? (Who have you voted for?).

"We commend SADC and President Zuma for what they are doing-insisting on a clear elections roadmap.The roadmap must address the issue of the soldiers. Nguva yemaelections tinoona zvikopokopo zvichingotenderera munyika. (During elections we see military helicopters flying around the country. We don't want this because this instills fear in people," said one youth participant. Participants also called for a new voter's roll and observers from SADC and the UN before during and after elections.

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