Zimbabwean elections have been marred by serious allegations of violence against opposition political party supporters, but some of the victims who have experienced torture, brutality, loss of their loved ones and some who are now disabled have vowed to vote for change in the 2018 polls.
The country’s elections have been marred by serious coercion from ruling party militia and youths who usually go all out to intimidate voters during elections period.
The June 2008 run up elections violence is still fresh in the minds of rural based Zimbabweans, with those suspected to be opposition political party supporters living in perpetual fear as their wounds are still fresh.
Speaking on the side-lines of a meeting for survivors of political violence organised by Heal Zimbabwe Trust a non-governmental organisations that deals with peace building, the victims of violence highlighted that they was no need for them to fear as Zanu PF had destroyed virtually all their aspects of life.
Roseline Mupfawa (42), a woman from Mutoko East in ward 19 who was raped and tortured resulting in her hand getting fractured by what she claims to be Zanu PF supporters who alleged that she was Tsvangirai’s prostitute says she will never lose hope.
“We are ready for the year 2018. The violence of 2008 was very difficult and it has disturbed our lives. As the country braces for the polls I encourage the people of Zimbabwe to vote resoundingly and kick out this government out of power,” she says.
The determined woman who looked visibly pained says she can no longer sit properly as the other side of her buttocks was completely paralysed by her asailants, says she has children seated at home and another could not complete university who she needs to vote for come 2018.
“I have kids. One of them finished university but has no job, another who has dropped out of university because they is no money. I encourage the young, women, grandmothers and fathers to change the government of Robert Mugabe, a man who celebrates his birthday but at 42 I cant have my birthday,” she said.
Mupfawa said as the 2008 election draws closer the government should find means of protecting victims of previous political violence arguing some of the perpetrators of worse political violence were walking freely in rural areas.
Another victim of the equally deadly 2002 violence Shapikiwa Muchenjeri (46) of Muzarabani South narrated her horror story and how she suspects that the brutality she was subjected to resulting on her giving birth to a pre-mature baby.
“I was supposed to give birth in March of 2002 but I had to be beaten up by Zanu Pf supporters who suspected that I was an MDC-T supporter. We were displaced from Muzarabani together with my husband. I run away to a hospital around January of that year where due to complications I gave birth to a pre-mature child. Unfortunately, the nurse who assisted me was victimised,” she says.
Muchenjeri however says despite an attempt by the ruling party to continue intimidating dissenting voices by denying them food aid, she won’t be cowed to vote against change in 2018 but warned political leaders against uniting with the former perpetrators of violence is the envisaged grand coalition.
“With what I have seen, I will not go back. 2018 we will vote for our future. Even the war against Smith was not easy, let’s do to Zanu PF what we did to Ian Smith. Zvandiisiri kugudzikana nazvo zvekubatana nana mai Mujuru (what I do not want is the coalition with the likes of Mujuru), as they say politics is a dirty game. Mujuru and her team were brutalising us. I prefer a coalition of independent people from Civil society, churches and the opposition. Church leaders must spear head the 2018 campaign,” she said.
Peter Sonikwenda who was a candidate for the MDC-T in ward 13 Hurungwe Magunje saying he lost to the Zanu PF candidate but was still shot on the 9th of June by a Zanu PF MP whom he identified as Ndambakuwa.
“I was attacked at around 3 am by a group of Zanu PF thugs led by Ndambakuwa as I tried to run away but was shot on my right leg. I reported the case to the police but to this day no efforts have been made to arrest these people, “says the visibly.
Sonikwenda says he used to take care of his family through agriculture and wielding, chores which he can no longer do as he is now paralysed, he adds he has no reason to fear come 2018 edging Zimbabweans to register and vote.
“My advice to the people of Zimbabwe is that let us unite. As for us in the MDC-T, we must register to vote. The problem is that the majority of our supporters are not registered, they must register. All genuine democrats must unite and fight for the Zimbabwean cause and come 2018 we will conquer,” he said.
Gogo Jane Matonedze (74) of Muzarabani says even though she was a Zanu PF supporter, her home and all that she had were all burnt down after his son (identified as Matonedze) was labelled as an MDC-T supporter, she added she will still vote in 2018.
“I lost everything that I had because they claimed that I was a mother to a sellout. I am now poor and have to take care of orphaned children whose parents died but their uncle was displaced because of violence. In 2013 I voted as an assisted voter because of fear but in 2018, I will be brave,” she adds.
If the above stories are anything to go by then the opposition still has a lot to do to ensure the protection of their supporters especially those based in rural areas who are prone to abuse by ruling party members.