Chief accused of terrorizing MDC supporters

Chief Rungano Mapiravana of Mberengwa North constituency in the Midlands province is reportedly terrorising supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, with some fleeing their homes in fear.

The chief dismissed accusations by a senior MDC provincial official, Lewellin Sibanda, that he, his aide, Admire Sibanda, and a war veteran, Emecious Makumire, used hate speech to stir political emotions at a rally at Chidembeko business centre in Mberengwa last week.

The MDC official castigated Mapiravana and his aides for ordering the beating up and eviction of locals for not supporting President Robert Mugabe. He cited the case of one Rugare Gwezuva, an MDC-T supporter, whom the chief reportedly ordered to leave his area for allegedly injuring his goat, in addition to paying a fine of $190 for the offence.

Another MDC-T supporter, Gayizamwa Mangena, said Sibanda, was also assaulted by Zanu (PF) activists at the behest of the chief, and left for dead after having been accused of co-ordinating an MDC-T ward meeting.

The chief is a well-known Zanu (PF) supporter. Sibanda said most of the politically motivated violence that has taken place in the area has involved the chief.

Zanu (PF) has politicized the role played by traditional chiefs and headman by providing them with a monthly salary and vehicles to use in their rural constituencies.

Some of these once revered leaders have been used to compile lists of the villagers in their area, for use during elections.

Speaking on the side lines of the rally the MDC-T District Chairperson, Robson Gambiza, said: ‘’The continued violence against MDC supporters and disregard of the right of Zimbabweans to join political parties of their choice is unjust. As MDC, we don’t expect a chief to partake in politics. Mapiravana must be apolitical.

‘’What shocks our party is the blatant disregard of peace initiative forged by parties in the Political Agreement to try to bring an end to the wave of political violence previously experienced in in our country,’’ added an emotional Gambiza.

The chief responded: ‘’Those are lies. I belong to no political party and the issue about Gwezuva is non-political. The truth is that the young man is the worst element that ever existed in my area. He doesn’t respect his community and he has many cases to answer, among them cruelty to domestic animals but if he gets summoned, he never attends my court. How then do you expect me to keep such a non- civilised subject in my area?”

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