By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2014
Four ZANU PF youths were on Tuesday each sentenced to 15 years in jail for the murder of MDC-T supporter John Max in August 2008.
Max was assaulted and fatally stabbed at Chidhuri Buffalo Farm in Kadoma by the youths, who accused him of being a political sell-out. The youths tried to deny the murder charge but were found guilty by High Court Judge Felistus Chatukuta.
The NewsDay newspaper gave the names of the four convicts as Nobert Muzhinji, Thabani Mashonganyika, Sikhumbuzo Madhuveko and Mangisi Mutandavari.
The youths were part of a group which also included Stabiliser Kadafi, Lovemore Nyikadzino, Tinashe Makaurire and Paul Muzenda, who are still being sought in connection with the murder.
The ZANU PF group accused Max of testifying against them in a case involving acts of political violence during the 2008 presidential run-off campaign period.
Max was one of at least 500 MDC supporters killed by ZANU PF activists during the bloody 2008 poll campaign. When elections were held in March, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai outpolled ZANU PF’s Robert Mugabe 47% to 43% in the presidential poll.
However, the victory did not give Tsvangirai the 51% he needed for an outright win leading to a run-off in June 2008. In the period leading to the run-off poll ZANU PF intensified its brutality and violence against opposition party supporters.
Militias and state security agents embarked on a nation-wide campaign of violence, intimidation and harassment to punish known and perceived MDC supporters.
Tsvangirai withdrew from that presidential race, citing the scale of the violence against his party’s supporters as the reason. This gave an unopposed Mugabe the presidency. But still, the violence continued.
By the end of the 2008 tens of thousands of opposition supporters had been tortured and hundreds of thousands were displaced.
While the conviction of the four Kadoma youths will be a relief to Max’s family many other known murderers and agents of political violence have not been punished for their crimes as they have been granted immunity from prosecution.
These include state security agent and ZANU PF functionary Joseph Mwale who was promoted despite murdering MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya.
Biggie Chitoro, another ZANU PF warlord who terrorised, killed, and maimed villagers in Mberengwa, continued to roam free until his death in May this year.
The ruling party rewarded both Mwale and Chitoro with a promotion within the CIO ranks, and ‘national hero’ status respectively.