The youth leaders from Community Tolerance for Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad), said they were severely intimidated by the police, who warned them not to hold the Thursday march against Sibanda.
The self proclaimed war vet leader has been forcing villagers in Masvingo rural areas to attend rallies, where he threatens to victimize anyone who does not vote for Robert Mugabe in elections. Sibanda also caused a row within ZANU PF when he defied provincial executive’s call for his dismissal. They had criticized his methods, saying he was doing more harm than good.
The detained youth were Cotrad director Gamuchirai Mukura, programmes manager Brighton Ramusi, Muchaneta Chimbo, and Talent Maposa. They were illegally held without charge for six hours.
Mukura said the Thursday march was intended to demand that Sibanda leave the province and put an end to his terror campaign. But the police pounced a day early in an attempt to scare them.
“We will not be threatened by those who abuse freedom of assembly, our freedom of speech and our democratic right to stand up on important issues. We are against political intolerance,” said Cotrad director Gamuchirai Mukura after he was released from Masvingo Central Police Station.
A statement from Cotrad said: “Jabulani Sibanda’s proclamations are indeed a recipe for disaster in nation building. We really honour the contributions made by each and everyone who made the political independence of Zimbabwe a reality, but we are strongly against the culture of political violence and intimidation.”
The group called upon “every peace-loving youth” in Masvingo province to join them in the march. The group said they are not against Sibanda as a person, but do not support the “disruption of peace, political intimidation, and violence”.
Jefferson Chitando, MP for Masvingo Central, told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that Sibanda is still conducting rallies but they have recently suffered low attendance due to schools being closed.
Speaking in Shona, Chitando said Sibanda usually forces students, teachers and parents to attend the rallies but school is out right now and very few people are going. “Zvino viringa kudzidza kwevana vedu,” the MP said, meaning “It disrupts the education of our children”.
Chitando said the message that Sibanda always brings is that war vets will go back to war and murder anyone who does not support Robert Mugabe during elections. He also reminds villagers that reporting to the police is pointless because he will not be arrested.
According to the MP, Sibanda instills fear in the hearts of villagers and discourages them from openly participating in MDC activities. But he says it does not change the final outcome, which is that people will vote anyway they like during elections.