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Villagers still haunted by 2008 violence

In some villages, Zanu PF and MDC supporters continue to treat each other with suspicion or open hostility.

A visit to villages around Madziwa Business Centre last week revealed that tension was still rife with neighbours accusing each other of perpetrating political violence in June 2008 that forced some villagers to abandon their homes for good.

When The Standard news crew arrived at Memory Tembo’s homestead in Chigombe village she was busy replacing window panes allegedly broken by suspected Zanu PF supporters in the run-up to the June 2008 elections.

Tembo was being assisted by her son Dickson, who she alleged, was kicked out of the national youth programme under the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, because he was an MDC-T supporter.

“We have just managed to raise money to repair our home after a long time,” Tembo said. “I hope they will not come and destroy this again.”

She claimed to know the people who destroyed their home and said they did not talk to them even when they meet along a narrow path.

After shattering the window panes and breaking doors, she said, the attackers threw a decomposing carcase of a dog into the family well, their only source of drinking water.

Tembo claimed the family was prohibited from fetching water from the communal borehole by Zanu PF activists in the area.

“We had to empty the well several times before we started drinking from it,” she said. “At times, we would see small bones in the water but we had no choice.”

Her neighbours who used to fetch water from her homestead stopped soon after the incident, preferring a well over a kilometre away.

Less than a kilometre from Tembo’s home is another family whose members do not speak to their neighbours, whom they accuse of murdering their father in the 2000 elections.

The families are separated by a small hedge.

“We just look at each other. We don’t talk. Our turn will also come,” said one of the sons who was at the homestead.

One of the houses is still without a roof since  a  2008 attack.

MDC-T co-ordinator for Shamva district Chenai Yohane said there were several families that never returned to their homes after the June 2008 political violence.

“Most of them are now staying in towns such as Bindura and Harare,” she said.

“I don’t have figures with me here but I know there are so many,” said Yohane, who pointed to two homes which she said were deserted after the owners fled fearing for their lives.

“Even if they were to come back, where would they start from?”

She said there was need to preach the gospel of peace, healing and reconciliation in the area before any elections.

She challenged President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to visit the area to facilitate peaceful co-existence in the community.

“If elections are held as things stand, more people will die in this area,” Yohane said. “Political tension is still high. People don’t trust each other.”

Abel Mugoni (34), who claimed to be a Zanu PF supporter, accused political leaders of fuelling tension and violence in the area.

He said instead of promoting peace, they spewed out hate language which people used as a licence to intimidate and clobber each other.

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