Gaba demands protection fees – businessmen

mdc__chCHIMANIMANI - A member of the Zanu (PF) Manicaland provincial womens league and loosing councilor during the 2008 harmonized elections, Mary Gaba, is allegedly soliciting protection fees from rural businessmen and MDC supporters in Zhombeni.

She has reportedly threatened them with a repeat of the horrendous incidences of the June 27 re-run if they fail to pay the fees.

Last week Gaba, in the company of Zanu (PF) youths including her children, visited shops at Zhombeni business centre demanding money and groceries from the struggling rural traders. Gabas sons were also reported to have been heavily involved in the torturing and murdering of MDC supporters during the period leading to the March 2008 elections. During the run-up to the discredited presidential run-off her homestead was used as a torture base by Zanu (PF) thugs.

Mary Gaba came here demanding money and groceries claiming that they were for independence celebrations. She said anyone who refused to pay the money would not be protected during the next elections. I had to give her the money and groceries because I know that woman is evil and is capable of organizing violence, as she did during the previous elections, said a businessman at Zhombeni rural business centre who refused to be named for fear of victimization.

Another businessman said she also lost a goat and money to Gaba as protection fee.

Here in Zhombeni we have never experienced peace since 2008. Some of us are seriously considering closing down because at any time we can be raided and our items taken on the pretext of protection fees. I think this woman is taking advantage of the remoteness of the area to threaten, abuse and extort from our shops

said another rural trader who pleaded with this reporter not to mention his name.

The MDC district coordinator for Chimanimani, Pardon Maguta, confirmed receiving complaints of harassment from Gaba by his party supporters.

We have received reports that some Zanu (PF) officials in Biriwiri ward under were demanding money for independence celebrations from villagers. As a party we are concerned about the accountability of the cash and groceries collected. In any case, every political party and other stakeholders should be part of the local organizing committee of national events like independence. MDC strongly condemns the politicization of important national events, said Maguta.

Efforts to get a comment from Gaba were in vain as her mobile phone was not reachable.

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