A non-governmental organisation has claimed that traditional leaders in Tsholotsho are being intimidated by Zanu PF so that they could cajole their subjects to vote for a Zanu PF candidate in forthcoming by-elections.
BY SILAS NKALA
Tsholotsho North is among 14 constituencies where by-elections will be held on June 10 after MDC-T expelled legislators linked to the MDC-Renewal faction.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo has been given a chance to have another shot at the constituency after he lost in the 2013 elections to Roselyn Nkomo. He is likely to face lightweight challengers as MDC formations are boycotting the polls.
But Heal Zimbabwe Trust claimed that on April 7, Chief Mathuphula summoned headmen Mahlaba, Mcetshwa and Mlevu and ordered them to ensure that Zanu PF would win the polls.
Heal Zimbabwe Trust said Chief Mathuphula violated the Constitution by dabbling in partisan politics.
“The action by Chief Matupula is a direct violation of the Constitution and peoples’ political and fundamental rights as no one should be compelled to vote for anyone,” the organisation said in a statement.
“At the meeting, he threatened them with unspecified action if villagers under their jurisdiction would fail to vote resoundingly for Jonathan Moyo, who is the Zanu PF candidate for the Tsholotsho North by-election.
“The people in Tsholotsho North have the right to make their own political choices and are free to participate in any political activity of their choice without being ordered or forced.”
Tsholotsho South MP Zenzo Sibanda was quoted saying traditional leaders in the district were embarrassed that their subjects snubbed Moyo in the last polls.
The MP appeared to confirm that Zanu PF had been engaging traditional leaders as part of election strategy.
“We recently visited traditional leaders in Tsholotsho North and they all revealed that they were now embarrassed to talk to Prof Moyo after people voted for an MDC-T candidate, but now with the opportunity made available to them they could talk to him, knowing that their subjects would correct their past mistakes,” Sibanda was quoted saying by State media.
Zanu PF was accused of using traditional leaders to intimidate voters in recent by-elections held in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West.
Zanu PF virtually ran unchallenged in the by-elections after MDC formations boycotted the polls demanding electoral reforms, but there were still allegations of fraud and voter intimidation.
There are fears the same tactics would be used in the forthcoming polls since the party is desperate to make a statement.
However, Zanu PF Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Richard Moyo yesterday said he was not aware of Chief Mathuphula’s meeting.
“I have not heard of that (meeting),” he said. “I was in Tsholotsho yesterday (Saturday) where we were having (provincial co-ordinating committee) meeting and there was no such talk.”
He said Zanu PF had stepped up its campaign ahead of the polls and was confident of recapturing the Tsholotsho North seat.