MDC Election Candidate Missing.

MDC Election Candidate Missing.

HARARE - A Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) election candidate in Rushinga has been missing since last month after he filed nomination papers to stand on the party's ticket in this month end's election.

Edison Muwengwa, a council candidate for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, was last seen on February 15 when he went to file his nomination papers at Rushinga council offices where the nomination court was sitting. The MDC’s director of information, Luke Tamborinyoka, told ZimOnline at the weekend that ruling ZANU PF party supporters in Rushinga had issued several death threats against Muwengwa for daring to stand for the opposition in the council elections. Rushinga, which lies on Zimbabwe’s northern border with Mozambique, is a stronghold of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and has been declared a no-go area for the MDC by the ruling party. Efforts by the Muwengwa family and the MDC leadership in the (Mashonaland Central) province to locate him have been in vain since last month. This has been worsened by the failure by the police to take action in following on the leads that have been provided by the family as well as the party, said Tamborinyoka. We  were unable to independently verify the MDC candidate’s disappearance or get immediate comment on the matter from the police. Tamborinyoka said three days before the nomination process last month, ZANU PF supporters, led by one Shingi Runhare, stormed Muwengwa’s home and threatened his family over his decision to stand for the MDC. The ZANU PF supporters then came back at night and ransaked Muwengwa’s house destroying property estimated to run into several millions of Zimbabwe dollars. Muwengwa escaped unhurt during the attack. Tamborinyoka said the next day, Runhare ordered villagers in ward 20 to attend a ZANU PF rally where he told the gathering that the ruling party was going to fix Muwengwa for representing the MDC. Two of Muwengwa’s relatives, Chengai and Zivanai Chapenya, were also assaulted during the rally after they were accused of supporting Muwengwa’s election bid, according to Tamborinyoka. Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect a new president, parliament and local council on 29 March. Human rights groups and the MDC say a repressive political environment marked by intimidation and organised violence against perceived government opponents renders the elections not free and fair. Zimbabwe’s elections since 2000 have been marred by violence mostly blamed on Mugabe’s supporters as the veteran leader seeks to keep discontent in check. Mugabe, who is seeking a fresh five-year term that could take his rule to 33 years, denies charges that he uses violence to retain power insisting that he has won previous elections fairly.

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