ZANU PF youths are moving door-to-door in some of Harare’s high-density suburbs and Chitungwiza, claiming they are carrying out a recruitment drive.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
In suburbs such as Kambuzuma, Mbare, Tafara and Kuwadzana, the youths are going around homes, writing down people’s names, house numbers and their national identity numbers.
Residents whose personal information is captured are then told to go and collect Zanu PF cards, either at the party’s local office or at houses being used as meeting venues by the youths.
Residents who spoke to The Standard last week said Zanu PF’s door-to-door recruitment drive was not only harassment and an intimidatory tactic, but also an infringement of people’s private lives.
“The youths told me that those who fail to produce a Zanu PF party card during the coming elections will be in big trouble,” said one resident of Kambuzuma.
“I agreed to give them my details, not because I support Zanu PF, but out of fear.”
The strategy is almost the same in Chitungwiza.
For example, in Ward 6 in Unit J, residents are being ordered to register their personal details at a house belonging to a Zanu PF official (name withheld), which functions as the “base”.
The residents said they were also promised the party’s cards, that they will use as “passports” during this year’s elections.
“Apart from that, they [youths] also promised us free maize, fertiliser and other favours that Zanu PF dishes out towards and during elections,” said one resident of Unit J in Chitungwiza.
“They said those who don’t register, the boys will deal with them when the time comes.”
In some parts of the country, the party has resuscitated bases similar to those used in 2008, where people who did not support Zanu PF were assaulted, raped, tortured or killed.
The MDC-T claims that at least 200 of its supporters were killed by Zanu PF supporters and state security agents, a charge the former ruling party has denied.
While no one has been tortured at the resuscitated bases, their mere presence is enough to frighten people because it reminds them of the brutality of the past elections.
MDC-T Manicaland provincial spokesperson, Pishai Muchauraya said Zanu PF was using traditional leaders and soldiers to take down people’s names, IDs and addresses.
He said the soldiers served to remind the people of the horrors of 2008.
“Either Zanu PF wants to use that information to rig elections or it is just to instill fear ahead of the elections. We are telling them to comply but they know where they will put their X come election day,” said Muchauraya.
“Of course, they are instilling fear into people’s hearts by reminding them of the 2008 violence, but people are now cleverer.”
‘Door-to-door campaigns are peaceful’
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said there was nothing wrong with the party’s door-to-door recruitment, as it was a peaceful exercise.
“There is nothing for people to fear because it’s peaceful. if the people don’t agree with their views, they have the right to refuse,” he said.
Gumbo said the party had been conducting door-to-door recruitment and campaign programmes for a long time.
“It absurd for anyone to suggest that the method is intimidating,” said Gumbo.
“We know the MDCs do their campaigns at night, but we let them do so because it’s their right.”