Women, children flee homes after Zanu (PF) intimidation: Amnesty

Amnesty International has reported women political activists and their children in Mashonaland Central and Midlands were fleeing their homes following acts of intimidation by Zanu (PF) supporters.

The human rights group said at least six women said they left home with their 12 young children after facing threats from village heads in Mukumbura and Mberengwa following the July 31 polls that President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) won controversially.

The displaced women activists, some of whom said they had to leave children behind, told Amnesty International that more families are in the same predicament and remain stranded in the Mukumbura district under threat of violence.

The women were threatened with violence and forced to flee with their children for refusing to reveal their vote to Zanu (PF) supporters, Amnesty reported.

The families, according to the organization, say they were targeted due to their support – real or perceived – for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

“It appears the Zanu (PF) supporters wanted to ensure that these women did not vote for the other parties and tried to compromise the secrecy of the ballot," Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa, said in Johannesburg.

“The Zimbabwean police must guarantee the safety of political activists in rural areas following these reports of politically motivated displacement. The authorities have a duty to investigate any threats of violence and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”

President Mugabe won the presidential poll with 61 percent of the vote, amid claims of electoral fraud from the MDC and some election observers.

“The election observers still in Zimbabwe must investigate the reports of politically motivated displacement in rural areas, and put pressure on the government to ensure human rights are protected," said Kututwa.

Police in Zimbabwean have however said there have not received reports of violence.

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