By Tererai Karimakwenda
09 January 2013
Soldiers campaigning for ZANU PF in the next election have been intimidating and threatening villagers in remote areas of Mashonaland East, according to fearful MDC-T supporters who reported the incidents to JOMIC representatives.
An official from JOMIC, the committee appointed by regional leaders to monitor implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), said they are currently investigating the reports but admitted they can only expose the perpetrators. The committee has no powers to prosecute anyone.
Piniel Denga, MDC-T legislator and JOMIC co-chairman for Mashonaland East, told SW Radio Africa that reports of serious intimidation and threats by soldiers had come from remote areas of Chikomba, Wedza and Mutoko.
Speaking while on his way to address villagers in Chikomba, Denga said: “We are getting reports that soldiers are going around intimidating villagers and saying if the MDC wins the next election, they are going to repeat the violence from 2008 elections and punish villagers.”
He said the reports were discussed during JOMIC meetings in Mash East and it was agreed that representatives would visit the affected areas, to interrogate the soldiers that were named. However, Denga admitted that all they could do as JOMIC was to expose the names of the soldiers.
“We are concerned that people should be free to elect any candidate of their choice without interference from civil servants, whether they are soldiers or police officers. Those people should be impartial. They shouldn’t support any political party and it is of serious concern to get such reports,” Denga said.
“As the MDC-T our president has been saying if you are a civil servant and want to engage in politics then you should resign from government structures and join politics. There is nothing wrong with that. But when you harass the very people you are supposed to serve then it becomes an issue,” Denga explained.
JOMIC has often been criticised as a “toothless bulldog” by frustrated victims of political violence and others who have been denied food and resources, simply because they support the MDC formations.
Denga’s only answer to this was to say that once the MDC-T is in power they plan to pursue those who are guilty of abuses.
But most observers say that the next election has no chance of being either free or fair as soldiers increasingly play a major role in ZANU PF’s election campaign. With villagers too scared to vote for them, the MDC formations may find themselves in another coalition government again, without the power to do anything.