In a frank exchange attended by 23 village heads, three headmen, pastors and civic leaders, the President heard heart-rending stories of the acute suffering of the people due to Zanu PF misgovernance.
For an area on the border with Mozambique which faced the brunt of the liberation struggle, it was saddening to note the acute poverty and the lack of freedoms for which blood was spilt in their villages.
Speaker after speaker spoke of the now common script of endemic fear and intimidation of the communities but mainly of the abuse of traditional leaders by forcing them to do the Zanu PF bidding.
A retired policeman told President Tsvangirai how he was forced to be an assisted voter, adding that several teachers and school heads were also assisted to vote by known Zanu PF youths.
The community leaders particularly the traditional leaders, told the popular MDC leader of their abuse by Zanu PF, narrating how they were forced to engage in partisan food distribution and to coerce and frog march people to vote for a particular political party.
It was heartening to hear this forsaken community pledging to finish it all off by voting in a new dispensation in the watershed election of 2018.
The people here said they had known no peace as they had experienced violence both by the Smith regime during the liberation struggle and even the post-liberation government of Robert Mugabe. People were maimed and even murdered for voting for change in 2008.
A stone’s throw from where President was engaging community leaders is the place where MDC stalwart Matthew Pfebve was murdered in a tragic case of mistaken identity by Zanu PF thugs who wanted to kill his brother, Elliot.
The traditional leaders told President Tsvangirai that during election time, their villages were overwhelmed by Mozambicans provided with Zimbabwean identity cards to enable them to vote for Zanu PF. They said this happened in every election and they expected a flurry of Mozambicans to flood their areas to participate in the Zimbabwe election of 2018.
However, they all pledged that it had now dawned on everyone that Zanu PF had reached the end of its tether and had no plan to rescue Zimbabweans from the poverty the same party had caused.
President Tsvangirai urged them to turn out in their numbers to register to vote so that they express their grievances by voting for change in 2018. He said only a new government will be able to rescue the country from the myriad of challenges that it currently faces.
This afternoon, President Tsvangirai holds a similar engagement in Glendale. Tomorrow, he will be in Guruve and Mvurwi, interacting with community leaders on the crisis facing the country and sculpting a new governance architecture for the country post-Mugabe in 2018.
Accompanying the President is National party Chairman Lovemmore Moyo, Deputy Organising Secretary Amos Chibaya, Women’s Assembly Chair Lynnette Karenyi, National Youth Chair Happymore Chidziva, Deputy Treasurer General Charlton Hwende and provincial leaders.
Presidential Spokesperson and Director of Communications