War vet leader a fake

jabulani_sibandaHARARE - The head of Zimbabwe's war veterans association, Jabulani Sibanda (Pictured), was 10 years old when the liberation war ended.

The self-styled war veteran, who has been using classic tactics of mass intimidation to cow Zanu (PF)’s political opponents, was born on December 31 1970, birth records show. And it is not only Sibanda claiming to have waged the liberation war. Most of the self-proclaimed war veterans are too young to have served in the struggle which led to Rhodesia’s independence from Britain in 1980.

“Go to hell,” Sibanda shouted when confronted about his age, before cutting off the line. He has terrorised rural areas, force marching villagers to his rallies and lecturing them ad nauseum on the evils of the MDC and the perfection of Zanu (PF). Then, in the style of the Red Guards of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he forces the villagers to go with him to the next farm to repeat the process, villagers say.

The only people left in the compounds are those who cannot walk because of the beatings they have received. Injuries range from simple abrasions to fractures, concussion and burns. Night after night the pattern is repeated by Sibanda from one rural area to the other around the country as President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party battles to ensure it will remain in government after elections Mugabe wants midyear.

“It is political violence. This is gross intimidation,” said MDC senator for Gutu, Empire Makamure, whose constituents have been terrorised by Sibanda. The Masvingo province area has received the worst Red Guard treatment, and more are likely to be targeted.

The tactics appear to be working. The number of people at previously well-attended MDC rallies is dwindling, and party T-shirts, pamphlets and posters that were a common sight a few months ago have become a dangerous rarity. People are so frightened that they dare not even raise their hands and wave to their friends because the gesture emulates the raised, open-palmed symbol of the MDC.

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