Villagers threatened for not giving to Mugabe celebration

Villagers in Gutu have castigated President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) party for allegedly forcing them to contribute towards the hosting of Mugabe’s birthday. Mugabe turns 90 on February 21 this year.

According to the villagers, war veterans and party youths are raiding villages demanding cash or livestock from the hunger-stricken villagers for the president’s celebrations.

The former freedom fighters and party youths are allegedly threatening villagers, and warning them that they will not benefit from any Zanu (PF)-initiated programmes.

Jorum Mushayi from Nemakonde village in Gutu told The Zimbabwean that the situation was unbearable.

“We are being forced to donate something or pay cash even if we do not support Zanu (PF),” said Mushayi. “Those who resist are threatened with death and eviction,” he said.

According to the villagers, Zanu activists are moving around the villages and noting the names of anyone who refuses to contribute. Even some Zanu (PF) supporters in the area are not happy with the fund-raising exercise.

Joyce Dube said: “It is bad to force people to contribute something at a time when hunger and starvation have tightened their grip in the area.

“We voted for President Mugabe. For him to continue asking for money from us is just asking too much from us villagers who do not have a decent source of income. We are saying ‘no’ to this daylight robbery.”

Zanu (PF) Masvingo provincial chair, retired brigadier-general Callisto Gwanetsa told The Zimbabwean that those forcing villagers to contribute something should be punished, as the party had not sanctioned such a move.

“We have asked our party structures from cell, ward and even province to fund-raise, but obviously not to force people,” said Gwanetsa.

In 2012, Robert Mugabe’s birthday caused controversy in the area after gifts donated to him went missing in Masvingo. The presents included cattle, goats, sheep and mealie-meal.

Three cabinet ministers, all from Masvingo, were named as the culprits.

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