Traditional leaders refuse to set up militia bases in Buhera

znaRetired officers from the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) have approached two chiefs in the Buhera area, proposing to set up what they called a youth training centre. But its reported that the chiefs refused.

Our Bulawayo correspondent, Lionel Saungweme, reported that the ZNA officers wanted to set up youth militia training camps that would also be used as torture bases by ZANU PF during the elections next year. They went to Chief Gwebu and Chief Makumbe, both traditional leaders in Buhera district, and tried to disguise the project as a skills training centre that would benefit the area.

But according to Saungweme, the chiefs refused because ZANU PF has a long history of terrorizing the area, especially because Buhera is the home of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Our correspondent said people in Buhera still have fresh memories of the brutal murder of MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, back in the year 2000. The two activists were campaigning for the MDC and were burned to death by ZANU PF thugs.

Saungweme explained that the party took the case to court in 2002, claiming that the violence had influenced the election results, and won. But the docket went missing and no-one has ever been arrested for the murders.

ZANU PF targeted Buhera again during the presidential runoff in 2008. Saungweme said war vet leader Joseph Chinotimba went around the area threatening MDC supporters. The MP for Buhera, Eric Matinenga, was also arrested at that time for claiming that the military was involved in the violence.

Saungweme said it is not clear whether Chief Gwebu and Chief Makumbe were offered any bribes or whether they were threatened by the army officers who approached them. But the incident is more confirmation that ZANU PF is looking to target Buhera again, ahead of the elections in 2011.

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