Spectre of violence haunts Buhera

The petrol bombing of MDC-T supporters, Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, in April 2000 at the height of political tension involving the then fledgling opposition party MDC and Zanu (PF) still haunts villagers here.

The violence goes on. Since Mabika and Chiminya were killed, more lives have been lost and property worth thousands of dollars destroyed, while scores of families have been displaced.

Buhera is the rural home of MDC-T President, Morgan Tsvangirai, who grew up herding cattle in one of the villages and became a hero when he assumed the leader of the party in 1999 at its formation.

A 2008 report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project said political Buhera was the worst affected by political violence in the same year. The violence was mainly attributed to Zanu (PF) aligned war veterans, youths and soldiers.

Last week, the villagers complained to The Zimbabwean that Zanu (PF) had resumed systematic, military style violence in Buhera. They claimed there was resurgence of the notorious torture camps that had become the order of the day during the 2008 presidential poll rerun from which Tsvangirai pulled out following widespread violence, leaving President Robert Mugabe as a sole contestant.

Titus Mapenzauswa, a village elder in Chief Nyashanu’s area complained of an unusually high presence of armed soldiers in the community who were intimidating residents while Zanu (PF) youths, he said, were instilling fear in their opponents.

“Only last week, some members of the military and Zanu (PF) supporters terrorised some villagers. Definitely, a climate of fear has enveloped the whole Buhera district again,” said Mapenzauswa.

Margaret Sauti, a woman whose 20-year-old son was severely burnt on the legs by the youth militia in the June 2008 violence still carries sad memories of the violence and fears a resurgence during the next general elections.

“Known youths and war veterans led by Petros Jiri and Morris Mabiza, among others, are using a house at Marenga shopping centre as a torture base for MDC-T supporters. We can see that the sad 2008 scenario is back again,” she said.

“Now we are seeing a new crop of young military cadres moving around our villages telling us not to repeat what we did in 2008 by supporting Tsvangirai,” said Sauti.

Last week MDC-T supporters in Muzokomba and Nyashanu villages were beaten up by Zanu (PF) supporters. The Manicaland MDC-T spokesperson, Pishai Muchauraya, confirmed the incident to The Zimbabwean.

“Our supporters were beaten up, but they managed to fight back. The villagers defended themselves. We cannot allow Zanu (PF) to continue harassing us like that. It is useless to report the matter to the police because our members are the ones who end up being arrested,” Muchauraya said.

A headman who cannot be named said: “A lot of violence and intimidation are going on in communities without being reported. Murambinda, Gaza and Marenga, specifically, are slowly degenerating into a hub of violence.”

A human rights group, Heal Zimbabwe, has accused the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration set up by Government to restore peace in the country of paying lip service to political violence.

“As long as the Organ on National Healing cannot make meaningful inroads in communities torn apart by polarisation for so long a time then the call or talk for new elections which is transparent and fair will remain a pipe dream,” said the organisation in a recent statement.

“We call upon the GPA principals to come to their sober senses and have people’s lives at heart by postponing an election until a conducive environment is created, where people will not lose their lives simply because they carry a different political view from others,” Heal Zimbabwe said.

Post published in: Politics

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