Hurungwe West candidate accused of voter intimidation

Keith Guzha, the Zanu (PF) candidate for Hurungwe West, is intimidating voters ahead of by-elections set for June 10, according to Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT).

Keith Guzha
Keith Guzha

The trust expressed dismay at the alleged intimidation that involved forcing voters to pretend to be illiterate so as to be assisted in polling and threatening withdrawal of farming inputs if they vote for his rival, Temba Mliswa.

Mliswa, the expelled former Zanu (PF) provincial chairman, is contesting as an independent in the constituency that he held before the ruling party fired him.

“Heal Zimbabwe Trust expresses great concern over continued voter intimidation taking place in Hurungwe West ahead of the by-election slated for 10 June 2015.

“Keith Guzha held a meeting at Vambe Growth Point (on May 5) where he accused villagers of supporting Independent candidate Temba Mliswa. He went on to accuse them of having boycotted voting in the Zanu (PF) primary elections.

“Guzha told voters to pretend to be illiterate on the day of voting so that they could be assisted in the voting process in favour of his candidature. Guzha also threatened that villagers will be denied farming inputs and food aid in the event that they fail to comply with his directive,” said HZT in a by-election update.

The trust also alleged that Rueben Marumahoko, the Zanu (PF) senator for Hurungwe, a woman identified as Bwoni and Guzha called for a meeting at Big Deve Dam where they ordered village heads to record names of all eligible voters and warned them people against boycotting the by-election.

The exercise of writing down people’s names by village heads reportedly commenced on May 12 and is on-going.

Chief Dandawa allegedly led a group of soldiers who threatened villagers with unspecified action on May 10 at Mutau and Chiroti schools in Hurungwe West.

“This is not the first time villagers in Hurungwe West have been threatened. On May 3 2015, soldiers who are still camped at Chief Dandawa’s residence have been intimidating villagers and threatening them with unspecified action in the event that they vote for…Mliswa.

“Heal Zimbabwe notes that the intimidations of villagers ahead of the by-election only compromises the outcome of the voting process. Section 155 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which outlines the Principles of the Electoral System states that, ‘elections must be peaceful, free and fair and free from violence and other electoral malpractices’.

“Therefore, the reported incidences show that the pre-election activities in Hurungwe go against the provisions that guarantee the holding of free and fair elections. These irregularities have already started compromising the outcomes of the scheduled vote,” said HZT.

The trust called o government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) “ to ensure a fair playing field ahead of the by-elections”, calling on the commission to investigations violations of the Electoral Act.

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