Non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe are reportedly compiling a report in rural areas where partisans of the ruling ZANU-PF are allegedly using violence to ensure victory ahead of a possible election run-off. The organizations say they will make available their report to international organizations to increase pressure on the ruling party. This comes after main opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) refused to be part of a possible run-off due to what it described as unwarranted violence against partisans of the party.
The MDC accused President Robert Mugabe’s government of employing violence to intimidate opposition supporters to force Zimbabweans in the rural areas to vote for the government in the election run-off. Gordon Moyo is the executive director of the Bulawayo project, a non-governmental organization. From Zimbabwe’s commercial capital, Bulawayo he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Zimbabweans in the rural areas are under siege.
“At the moment the civic society leadership including the church leadership is going out in the rural areas to assess the structures of violence, the structures of manipulation and coercion that has been set by the government and the ZANU-PF in order to intimidate the people in the rural areas. So, the civic society is busy coming out with a document to take this document to feed into the policies to feed into SADC (Southern African Development Community) to feed into the international community so that drastic measures can be taken against ZANU-PF,” Moyo pointed out.
He said an army contingent from South Africa is currently looking into the unrest in the rural areas.
“At the same time some army generals from South Africa are visiting the country also to assess the situation on the ground. Their report would be a preliminary report that we are hearing from them is that they are confirming that there are structures of violence in the rural areas, there a re structures of manipulation and coercion that have been deployed by ZANU-PF in the period preceding the run-off,” he said.
Moyo said the ongoing violence could potentially undermine the credibility of any possible election run-off.
“If the run-off is to take place under the current circumstances, it would be very difficult say that kind of election is worth talking about because what you are seeing in the rural areas, I’m coming from the rural areas and I’m going there tomorrow people are under siege and by the ZANU-PF structures. Certainly, this is going to have a negative impact on democracy if we are going to have elections under these circumstances because a lot of people are already displaced. And if the elections are going to be ward based and if you are not in your ward you are not going to vote and this is exactly what the ZANU-PF is trying to achieve,” Moyo noted.
He said the ruling party was taken aback by the lack of support during the March 29 elections.
“ZANU-PF was shocked in the last elections on 29 March because the opposition got a lot of support from the rural areas. And for a very long time ZANU-PF had some structures constructed around rural areas, political walls such that civil society the opposition cannot campaign in these areas. ZANU-PF was shocked that MDC got votes where did not campaign and because of that ZANU-PF is afraid,” he said.