Election violence – the hidden hand

As the chorus for elections grows louder, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minster Morgan Tsvangirai, other political leaders, analysts, journalists, political commentators, members of the clergy and Zimbabweans in general have joined in chanting the motto “no to political violence”.

While many question the sincerity of some of these calls, it is certain that many leaders in SADC and the African Union are sick and tired of the violence that accompanies our elections.

Senior Zanu (PF)officials were the core conspirators of politically motivated violence that gripped Shamva just before the June 2008 presidential election run-off, it has been revealed. In the now infamous and politically embarrassing election, Mugabe unashamedly competed against himself after his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, who had won the first round, was forced to withdraw from the election in order to save his supporters from widespread violence and torture at the hands of murderous Zanu (PF) functionaries determined to reverse their leader’s humiliating loss in the March 2008 elections.

Situated in Mashonaland Central Province, home to sworn Zanu (PF) zealots like Police Chief Augustine Chihuri, Indigenisation Minister Savior Kasukuwere, and the late former ministers Border Gezi and Elliot Manyika, Shamva is a political hotbed, where political plurality is equated to treason.

Ezekias Chiyangwa, presently living in Chiyangwa Village and also the current Zanu (PF) District Chairman for Shamva and member of the District Coordinating Committee masterminded the 2008 terror campaign.

He led a team comprising the now deceased war veteran Chinhengwa (died in 2010), Wonder Zvomuya, a neighbourhood police officer, Ishmael Jena of Zhanda Village in Ward 13 and Moses a Zanu (PF) activist who was given land at Magobo Farm as a reward for his nefarious activities. In a pattern replicated across the whole country, Zanu (PF) supporters set up so called ‘bases’ where all night vigils, pungwes, were held and known and perceived MDC-T supporters were assaulted and tortured.

In Shamva, the main torture camp was at Bin Sanye Village 27 in Chiyangwa and Mungongoma Villages.

The modus operandi employed by these thugs involved gathering people at the “base” with the help of Zanu (PF) youth militia, soldiers, police and Central Intelligence Organization details.Gangs ofZanu (PF)youths, sometimes numbering up to 200, from other constituencies in Mashonaland Central such as Mt Darwin also took part in the violence.

This was done to conceal the identity of the perpetrators as they would be operating in areas where they are not known. At Chiyangwa’s command, the gangs would besiege their victims brandishing iron bars, clubs, axes and machetes (mabhemba).

The violence in Shamva was particularly well organized and it was not surprising when revelations emergedthat some members of the Zimbabwe National Army and government departments provided logistical and technical support to the gangs.

For instance, in a bid to conceal their identity, soldiers traded their military garb for civilian clothing in order to provide leadership to the terror campaign.

War veterans and war collaborators mobilized the people while the police lenta hand by not investigating reported cases. On the other hand, the CIO kept a watchful eye on the securocrats to make sure that information on violent activities was kept under wraps. The CIO was also involved in a calculated campaign aimed at intimidating and harassing professional servicemen in the police and the army.

Government departments like the Central Mechanical and Engineering Department were forced to provide logistical support in the form of Mahindra vehicles. Other vehicles came from parastatals like the Grain Marketing Board, all at the decree of the Provincial Governor.

Among the hundreds of MDC supporters who bore the brunt of the violencein this area, were Luke Nyamadzawo who was heavily assaulted and suffered a broken leg, Dorcas Bete who lost a house and valuable household property in arson attack. Solomon Chitambwa also had his house destroyed while Tinei Mhizha’s house was torched on 25 April 2008. The matter was reported to the police but no arrests have been made. Mhizha suffered a repeat attack on May 5, 2008.In an incident implicating high ranking government officials, Police Chief Augustine Chihuri directed Chiyangwa and his bunch of hooligans to beat up and burn houses belonging to MDC-T supporters to avenge the burning of one of his tractors at Shamva Mine.

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