Horrific recounts of terror and desperation in Zimbabwe

Reading time 7 min.

On Friday, I spent the whole day in Plumtree area, a border town with Botswana where I heard horrific accounts. Villagers I spoke to, in varied places all narrated similar accounts. They told me of a band of people were visiting them at night fall with one word – we have been sent by elders from Harare to inform you that on March 29 you voted wrongly.

from our correspondent in Plumtree

So if you want peace vote Robert Gabriel Mugabe and if you want blood then vote Morgan Tsvangirai. One woman who identified herself as Mrs Chiromo says last Thursday at approximately 1300 hours four came to her house at ZB PLUMTREE SECTION.

The child

She was at work then but her young child was alone at home. “ There men asked my seven year old daughter which party I voted for. My daughter said she does not know and they instructed her to tell me that if I vote for MDC they would be-head the whole family” she said. I found my daughter in tears and she struggled to narrate what those men said.

On Friday morning, the daughter refused to go to school saying those men would trail us and chop off our heads, she said. The strategy used by Zanu PF is to instill fear and disperse villagers, so as to disenfranchise thousands. The presidential run off would be ward based meaning.

Moses’ story

In the early hours of May 6, Miriam Nkomo her husband Moses awoke to a deafening knock on their bedroom hut. Moses says he identified the frantic voices of his two friends, Simon Dube and Misheck Ncube, got up and quickly opened the door. As his two friends made their way breathlessly into his house, Moses knew there was something seriously wrong. Simon and Misheck indeed had bad news: while coming home after having a beer, the two spotted trucks packed with ZANU PF youths, war veterans and soldiers making their way to their village.

In the weeks following the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) announcement that the MDC party had won the house of assembly, an orgy of violence linked to ZANU PF swept through Mashonaland provinces is now in Matatebeleand.

The architect of this reign of terror is Jacob Nleya of ZANU PF and war veteran.

Moses and his friends had heard about the violence and knowing that some of the well known opposition MDC party activists were nearby in Linda, knew that ZANU PF’s retributive campaign would one day catch up with them. While Tariro quickly packed a few of their belongings into a bag, Moses and his friends ran to the few homesteads nearby and warned other opposition activists of the pending danger.

They were soon joined by other MDC party youths and supporters who helped them sound the alarm bells and off to Bostwana. Moments later Moses returned home, picked up his wife and three year old daughter Trish and fled into the night with Misheck and Simon, avoiding major roads so they would not be tracked by the ZANU PF thugs.

I spoke to Moses and Tariro at their homestead on Friday morning.. “All I wanted to do was to take my family to safety. I knew that once I got to Tsamaya in Bostwana my family would be safe, even if this meant traveling through the bush. Being attacked by wild animals was much better than dying at the hands of Mugabe’s army. As I fled my home, my only thought was for my three-year old daughter – how could I let her die for my sins? My crime is supporting Morgan Tsvangirai and standing in the council elections against a ZANU PF candidate. Now ZANU PF is baying for my family’s blood.”

A new slogan

At Linda and Tshithsi areas, villagers fled to Botswana on Wednesday night after two truck loads of soldiers set up base a primary school. “ It was shortly after 4 pm when they arrived at a shopping centre. Their message was “ vote Mugabe for life and peace or Tsvangirai for death” says Mr Gift Tsuma.

That got villagers scared and the only logical thing at that point was to dash home, grab a few belongings and head for Botswana. Passports are not important as there are several illegal entry pints. “ We fled that night and warmly received in Botswana. A few people came back the following morning. Those we left said they wont return any time soon even if elections are called next week they are too scared to come”

More victims than thought

On Friday doctors in Harare said levels of organised violence and torture have escalated dramatically in the last fortnight. “Since the last report on 25 April, our members have reported a dramatic escalation in incidents of organised violence and torture with the number of victims documented in the post-election period now standing over 900,” the
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said in a statement.

“This figure grossly underestimates the number of victims countrywide as the violence is now on such a scale that it is impossible to properly document all cases.”

The association said that the number of cases appeared to have risen particularly sharply in the last week, blaming the security services and hardline supporters of Mugabe for the attacks. “In the last 24 hours alone, 30 victims have been treated for limb fractures in Harare hospitals and clinics and supplies of plaster of Paris bandages are reported to be exhausted in most health centres,” it said.

“The current pattern of organised torture and violence being perpetrated by state security agents in the rural areas of Zimbabwe is similar to that documented prior to the 2002 elections” when Mugabe was last re-elected. “However, the current violence is dramatically more intensive and unrestrained. The level of brutality and callousness exhibited by the perpetrators is unprecedented and the vicious and cowardly attacks by so called war veterans on women, children and the elderly shames the memory of all true heroes of the liberation struggle.”

A history of terror

As vindictive as ever, Mugabe has unleashed his army and so called war veterans and ZANU PF youths to teach Zimbabweans a lesson. People have died, lost their livelihoods, their possessions, their homes and everything they have worked hard for almost all their lives because Mugabe cannot accept defeat. Even a brief look at Mugabe’s rule shows that he is vindictive by nature.

In 1983, Mugabe unleashed a reign of terror that became known as Gukurahundi in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces of Zimbabwe. He said this was meant to quell “disturbances” he claimed were caused by “dissidents” who were threatening national peace.

The so-called dissidents were in fact former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) forces who fought in the war under the command of the late Joshua Nkomo. The ZIPRA forces were accused of trying to cause a civil war in Zimbabwe.

However, the truth is that after independence, ZIPRA forces were unhappy about not being incorporated into the new Zimbabwe, though they had played a huge role in liberating the country.

Mugabe wanted the Zimbabwe National Liberation Association (ZANLA) forces that had been under his command during the war to take all the credit for the defeat of the British forces and gave them preferential posts in the army, police and air force while ZIPRA forces were sidelined.

When ZIPRA forces spoke out, Mugabe hounded them like dogs. More than 20,000 innocent civilians were killed, accused of hiding and feeding the alleged dissidents.

Rising death toll

The MDC now reports that at least 30 of its supporters have died in post election violence clearly perpetrated by ZANU PF. More than 3,000 people in rural Zimbabwe have also been displaced.

“The situation only gets worse and we can only pray for God’s intervention. In the event of a runoff I believe that ZANU PF will yet again suffer a huge and humiliating defeat. I know that once again Zimbabweans will vote tyranny out” Tariro summed it up by saying, ” Should this regime eventually get me, they should not make the mistake of leaving me alive because even in a wheelchair I will go and vote Mugabe out in the runoff.”

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