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Bikita West a hotbed of violence- Heal Zimbabwe

by Stephen Jakes
29 Dec 2016 at 04:17hrs | Views
Heal Zimbabwe trust has said there is escalating violence in Bikita west ahead of the by elections as parties jostle to replace expelled MPO Munyaradzi Kereke who is serving ten year jail term for rape.

The organisation says since 2001 Bikita west has been characterized by violence during elections and even the latest polls resembles the ones that occurred before.

HZT said in 2001 Bikita West Parliamentary By Election following the death of Munyaradzi Mutongi, an MDC elected MP in 2001, Boniface Pakai (MDC-T) and Retired Colonel Claudious Makova (Zanu PF) contested the seat and running up to the by-election day, violence was rife.

"MDC claim that some of its supporters were abducted, killed and dumped at Gonarezhou National Park while John Garandiya, an MDC activist was also shot in the leg at Nyika Growth point by suspected Zanu PF youth. Torture bases were established in areas such as Pachinhamo Shops, Bikita Fashi Secondary school, Maregere Business Centre and at Nyika Growth Point, Bengura and Mutikizizi Schools," HZT reported.

"The torture base at Nyika Growth Point was coordinated by former war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi while the base at Maregere Business Centre was coordinated by Christen Mashanda and Philip Ticharava. Violence was sustained by the youths and war veterans deployed by the late Border Gezi the then Minister of Youth and Zanu PF Political Commissar. The teams were deployed to harass opposition members and created a no go area zone for the opposition."

HZT states that in one incident, members of the opposition were arrested for allegedly murdering a Zanu PF supporter Bernard Gara also known as Steven Bernard Gwanda1 at Baradzanwa Business Centre on December 30, 2000.

Gara who had defected from the MDC to join Zanu PF died after attacks at a time the MDC had deployed its own youths to protect its supporters.

"On December 17, 2000, 50 opposition members were reportedly injured during interparty clashes.3 Two MDC MPs, Rensom Gasela and Willias Madzimure were injured in some of the interparty clashes while a motor convoy was petrol bombed.  Manyame Ropafadzo an MDC supporter was murdered on 6 January 2001 while Ziweni Osborn was shot and killed on 18 August 2001 in Bikita West," HZT said.

"In their February 2001 Political Violence Report, Human Rights NGO Forum documented 21 cases of torture during the Bikita West by-election. "..The main forms of torture involved beatings, falanga, sexual torture, suspension, hooding, suffocation, and burning with cigarettes. Falanga' refers to beatings on the soles of the feet and this is of considerable concern since this form of torture leads to pronounced disability with continuous pain..."

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada also reportedly noted that approximately 200 secret security agents and 1 800 support personnel was deployed to Bikita West ahead of the elections as part of Zanu PF elections taskforce. The organisation said on the two polling days, 300 War Veterans were stationed at Jaravaza Polling Station in the same constituency.

"Major violations were committed under the guard of the late Chenjerai Hunzvi, Joseph Chinotimba and Francis Zimuto (aka Black Jesus), violations were committed through beating and displacing suspected opposition members, occupying commercial farms and Bikita Minerals plant, as well as forcing people to surrender their national identity cards or confiscation. Other violations also included; threatening chiefs with removal from office, forcing people to attend night vigils and rallies, burning with cigarettes, beating with riffle buts and assault on testicles," reads HZT report.

"In 2005, Colonel Claudious Makova (Zanu PF) contested again for the Parliamentary seat against Alex Ziki (MDC-T). Colonel Makova won the election albeit under a violent campaign as he had done in the 2001 by election. Many houses belonging to opposition supporters were burnt and several opposition party supporters were assaulted."

HZT said in 2008, violence was rife again in Bikita West, as was the case in 2005, 2001 and 2000. Heya Shoko (MDC-T) and Elias Musakwa (Zanu PF) squared off.

"In the run up to the election, several cases of voter intimidation were recorded in the constituency. Major General B. R. Murwira was deployed to Bikita West Constituency as part of the countrywide deployment of army personnel "to spearhead an orgy of violence while drumming up support for President Robert Mugabe ahead of the anticipated run-off presidential elections in June 27, 2008," reads HZT report.

"Terror bases were set up in different wards. In Ward 9, Majembere Grounds hosted a terror base in Bikita West. This base was led by Munhande (then Councillor), Phillip Dliwayo (then Zanu PF Ward Chair), and Blessing Chinondiwana (Vice Ward Chair then). In Ward 13, Mashanda, an office holder at Zanu PF Nyika Post led a terror base which was located in Nyamushiri Village Ground next to the Provincial Heroes Acre. Jeppy Jaboon (then Bikita Political Commissar) and Nhongonhema (held a position in Zanu PF at ward level) were also among the perpetrators who tormented people at this base."

HZT said Police also colluded with Zanu PF to restrict freedom of political participation, assembly and expression. The organ isation said in March 2008, student activists Madock Chivasa, Hillary Zhou, Farirai Mageza, Simbai Chivasa, Tapiwa Mushati, Andrew Madziwa, and Vincent Chimwami, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist were arrested and detained at Nyika Police Station while distributing election campaign materials for a student campaign urging youths to vote.

"Simbai and Chivasa, Mageza and Madziwa were seriously injured and also sustained dog bites. They received medical attention at Nyika Clinic.9 In a separate incident, after elections, on 4 September 2009, Joseph Munyuki died at Masvingo Hospital after being attacked by a ZANU PF youth, Bernard Nyangara on the 8th of August 2009 in Nyangara Village," reads the report.

"Between 2010 and 2012, War Veterans led by Jabulani Sibanda launched a political "re-education" campaign which forced villagers to flee their community. They were reminded of the 2008 violence as Sibanda threatened that "2008 was just a ‘piece' of what was to come and that ‘blood will flow', and that those who sideline ZANU PF should prepare for death."

HZT said intraparty violence also affected the community as Elias Musakwa battled with Munyaradzi Kereke for the seat.

Source - Byo24News