Zanu PF, referred to as “the military junta” by critics, at the weekend sealed off Matobo constituency in Matabeleland South which fell vacant following the election of MDC national chairman, Lovemore Moyo, as the Speaker of Parliament.
Moyo, the popularly elected legislator for Matobo, was elected the new speaker of parliament on August 25, making him the first non-Zanu (PF) speaker since independence in 1980.
This makes him the fourth most senior person in government, after the president and the two vice-presidents.
The election of Moyo left his seat in Matobo vacant and by August 26, just 24 hours after the seat became vacant, Zanu (PF) youths from Bulawayo and government secret intelligence services had been deployed in the constituency, just 50km from Bulawayo, to campaign for the party by-election.
No candidates have been selected for the election and the date is not yet known.
Sources in the constituncy says the militias had already started harassing and raiding homes belonging to MDC supporters and they declared the area no-go for MDC.
They say war veterans set up bases by the evening of August 25 when news that Moyo had been elected the Speaker of Parliament.
Two army commanders from Mbalabala Baracks have been dispatched to Matobo to oversea the terror campaigns.
They said Zanu (PF) youths spent the night singing liberation songs at the growth point.
“The situation in Matobo has suddenly turned tense after news that our local MP has been elected was received and war veterans had already set up bases like what happened towards the June 27 elections,” an MDC official in Matebeleland South said.
A “strategic meeting’ has been called by Zanu PF Matebeleland leasdersip to map out campaign tactics.
But villagers say they would not be intimiated.
Moyo’ s election has left the MDC and Zanu (PF) each with 99 seats in Parliament, making this by-election absolutely crucial to the delicate balance.
“There is so much at stake here, it is obvious that Zanu (PF) is determined to unleash its dogs of war to ensure a Zanu victory in the ensuing by-election,” she said.
On Sunday Moyo said the MDC would not give up the seat on a silver platter.
“It wont be easy sailing for Zanu PF. That seat belongs to MDC and we will defend it at all cost,” he says.