The ruling party went to great lengths to instill fear in the people particularly at Kotwa growth point in Mudzi and at Mutoko growth point where President Tsvangirai addressed rallies last Friday. At Kotwa, the army had earlier warned people not to attend the meeting while a food distribution function was organized near the venue of the rally to sway starving citizens from the MDC meetings. In any case, the food was brazenly being distributed in a partisan manner as Zanu PF party cards were a requirement at the food distribution function presided over by party functionaries.
At Mutoko, officers from the Central Intelligence Organization also intimidated people and put up a poster of Robert Mugabe at the venue of the meeting. The police said they would arrest anyone who removed the poster, hastily stuck up by intelligence officers just before President Tsvangiraiâ€™s scheduled meeting.
Despite this desperate bid to intimidate the people, the residents of Kotwa, Mutoko Hwedza and Chivhu where the President held his rallies were resolute that no amount of intimidation would work in 2018. At Kotwa and Mutoko, some residents listened to the MDC leader from shop verandas as they feared reprisals fromÂ Zanu PF officials if they chose to listen to Tsvangirai.
While the people of Mashonaland East remained resolute and unstinting in their support for change, it was clear that the fear factor is strong in the province. Zanu Pf as a party remains keen on harvesting from the fear they planted in the province in 2008.
Mashonaland East is the home province of Itai Dzamara and Cephas Magura, an MDC supporter brutally slain in Mudzi while President Tsvangirai was attending a SADC summit in 2012.
Despite the overt fear implanted in the people and the intimidation by State security agents particularly in Mudzi and Mutoko, Zimbabweans in Mashonaland East said they will bury the ghost of fear by voting for change in 2018.