Update: Counting Down to Bikita West By-Election -Peaceful or Violent?

There are 17 days before the seminal by-election is held in Bikita West constituency where six candidates are contesting for the House of Assembly seat. Human rights violations continue escalating in the constituency as the by-election day, 21st January 2017, draws nearer.

electionMajor violations observed include;  threats of violence issued to voters and opposition supporters, partisan food and non-food items distribution, threats of withdrawal of food aid, forced attendance to rallies, assault, disruption of political gatherings and destruction of campaign materials.

Generally the socio-political environment in Bikita West constituency was peaceful towards the Christmas holidays.  However, the environment is beginning to heat up as the polling day draw closer. Notable victims of violence in the constituency are mostly perceived or known opposition party leaders and supporters belonging to Zimbabwe People First (Kudakwashe Gopo), Independent candidate (Heya Shoko) and National Constitutional Assembly (Madock Chivasa). On the other hand, perpetrators of the recorded violations are mostly ZANU PF supporters. Voters and opposition supporters continue to be victimised by the ruling party supporters with traditional leaders acting agents of violence and intimidation.

As we count down to the Bikita West By-Election, Heal Zimbabwe continues to monitor the electoral environment. Below are some of the specific violations recorded from different wards in the constituency:

Bikita west ward 32

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected in Bikita West today (4th January 2017) and he is scheduled to address a rally at Nyika Growth Point. However, in preparation of the VP’s visit, on the 3rd of January Chief Marozva who is also a ZANU PF senator summoned all the village heads for a ward meeting at Makotore ward centre where he implored village heads to woe their subjects to vote for ZANU PF. A total of 39 village heads attended the meeting and they were instructed to assist voters in the upcoming by-election to ensure a landslide victory. Chief Marozva emphasized that all village heads should also ensure that people attend a rally at Nyika growth point on the 4th of January 2017 which will be addressed by  VP Mnangagwa.

Bikita West ward 9

ZANU PF Chairman Philip Dhliwayo is denying food aid to opposition party supporters. On 23 December 2016, Dhliwayo called for a food distribution at the ward centre. At the meeting, he announced that the food was meant only for ZANU PF supporters. Dhliwayo also urged people at the meeting to vote for ZANU PF candidate in the upcoming by election, Beauty Chabaya. He also announced that if Beauty Chabaya loses in the by election, ZANU PF will ensure that no food aid comes into the area ever again.

Bikita West ward 4

On 30 December 2016, ZANU PF Bikita South legislator Jeppy Jaboon distributed fertilisers at Murwira Primary school. At the food distribution exercise, he openly told people that only ZANU PF supporters were going to receive fertilisers and highlighted that no opposition supporter was going to receive fertilisers. He also urged people to vote for ZANU PF candidate, Beauty Chabaya in the pending by-election.

Bikita West ward 5

ZANU PF candidate, Beauty Chabaya distributed maize seed at Makuvaza Primary School on 31 December 2016. At the distribution meeting, she said that only ZANU PF members were going to receive the maize seed. She promised that if people vote for her in the pending by election, she would donate more of the maize seed. In a separate incident, unidentified ZANU PF youths moved in the ward on 31 December 2016 threatening people that if they voted for any other candidate besides Beauty Chabaya, ZANU PF was going to unleash violence worse than that experienced in 2008.

Bikita West ward 9

Councillor Mukaro Jongonya and ZANU PF ward chairperson, Phillip Dhliwayo are denying food aid from Ministry of Social welfare to opposition party supporters. At a food distribution exercise at Bikita business centre on 30 December 2016, the two distributed food aid and announced that all opposition party supporters were not going to receive food aid. At the food distribution exercise, they also announced that they will ensure that ZANU PF candidate Beauty Chabaya wins the by election at all costs.

Bikita West ward 10

Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) members, Tsuru Gurwe and Struggle Nyahunda were assaulted by ZANU PF youths at Hozvi business centre on 11 December 2016. The two were assaulted  for campaigning for ZPF candidate in the by election, Kudakwashe Gopo. The matter was reported at Bikita police station but no arrests have been made.

Bikita West ward 22

On 20 December 2016, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) member, Melody Muganhiri was assaulted by ZANU PF chairlady, Mhurai Jecha during a food distribution exercise at Gangarahwe business centre. Before the assault, Jecha accused Muganhiri for mobilising people to attend a ZPF rally at Gangarahwe business centre on 18 December 2016. The case was reported at Bikita police station but no arrests have been made so far.

Bikita West ward 22

On 29 December 2016, ZANU PF youths led by Youth chairperson, Chiedza Mushamba disrupted a Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) rally at Gangarahwe business centre. The youths arrived at the venue when ZPF candidate in the pending by election, Kudakwashe Gopo had already started to address the rally. They then started chanting slogans and harassing ZPF supporters who had gathered for the rally. The matter was reported at Bikita police station leading to the arrest of ZANU PF activists, Mhurai Jecha, Chiedza Mushamba and Simeon Ziwewe.

Bikita West Ward 9 

Dzidzai Maregere, a National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) member was denied farming inputs from the Presidential input Scheme by former ZANU PF Councillor, Peter Munhande on 31 December 2016. During the distribution exercise, Munhande pointed out that people like Maregere were not going to benefit from the Presidential input scheme because they supported opposition parties. The distribution exercise took place at Bikita business centre. The distribution exercise was also attended by ZANU PF ward chairperson Fungai Taruona and other ZANU PF members.

Bikita West Ward 10

Bikita South MP Jeppy Jaboon and ZANU PF candidate Beauty Chabaya hijacked an input distribution meeting at Jaravaza Primary and converted it into a rally on 30 December 2016. The three took turns to urge people gathered that if they wanted to continue receiving inputs, they were supposed to vote for Chibaya. Jaboon also added that people will be thoroughly beaten if ZANU PF loses the coming

Bikita ward 32

ZANU PF ward chairperson Charles Tirukai and ZANU PF women’s league chairlady for ward 32 only identified as Mai Bevan intimidated people who came to receive maize seed under the Presidential input scheme on the 26th of December 2016 at Makotore ward centre. The distribution exercise was later turned into a campaign rally for ZANU PF candidate in the by election, Beauty Chabaya. Beauty Chibaya and Bikita South Legislator, Jeppy Jaboon also took turns to address the rally. In his address, Jaboon highlighted that all the people should vote for ZANU PF or they will face and experience ZANU PF “terror” should it lose. He further highlighted that all the serial numbers of people who registered to vote were compiled and submitted to him, thus he will monitor and know the people who would have voted against ZANU PF. Beauty Chabaya highlighted the maize seed was meant for ZANU PF supporters and told opposition members that they will only receive maize seed and hand-outs if they voted for ZANU PF. More than 800 people attended the rally. Opposition members who had come for the maize seed distribution were turned away by Charles Tirukai who was calling out all names of all perceived opposition party members from a compiled list.

Bikita ward 32

Campaign material belonging to National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate Madock Chivasa was defaced at Makotore Business centre by alleged ZANU PF youths on the 24th of December 2016.

Bikita ward 9

Simon Chibarwe, a supporter of Heya Shoko an Independent candidate in the pending by election was denied food aid on the 29th of December 2016 at Ngondyore primary school. Simon highlighted that ZANU PF youths shouted that he was not eligible to receive food aid from social welfare because he supported Heya Shoko who is contesting as an independent candidate for the upcoming by-election.

Bikita ward 11, 13 and 30

Campaign material belonging to Heya Shoko who will contest in the upcoming by-election as an Independent candidate was defaced in Sosera area by  ZANU PF youths. This took place on the 28th of December 2016. The material was also defaced in ward 13 and 30 by suspected ZANU PF activists.

HZT also got in touch with the ZANU PF candidate, Beauty Chabaya to hear her side over the allegations labelled against her and her political party but she refuted and dismissed all allegations as false and malicious meant to tarnish ZANU PF.

The organisation continues to call for peace and tolerance ahead of the 21 January 2017 by elections in Bikita West.

Convoy system suspended following truce
So it went in Rhodesia, so it goes in Zimbabwe.

Post published in: Featured
  • Patrick Guramatunhu

    This is the political reality, the political norm, in Zimbabwe. These are not empty threats as known opposition supporters are denied the fertilizer, seed or whatever. The ordinary people in these villages are often punished long after the by-elections is over and the observers are gone. How can we say the people are free to express their democratic will under these conditions.

    It is a great tragedy that we have allowed this undemocratic practices to go on under our own noses for all these years. It is unforgivable for us to allow this to happen ever again.