CCC President Advocate Nelson Chamisa

OPPOSITION Citizen Coalition for Change party members in Umguza say they failed to field a candidate for Ward 14 in the forthcoming council elections because the ruling Zanu PF threatened to unleash violence on opposition challenge.

Umguza has been a Zanu PF stronghold since the time of Obert Mpofu, who was a long time MP for the area. The ruling party has for years declared Umguza a no go area for the opposition, threatening violence. Mpofu is now the Zanu PF national secretary for administration.

In 2018 his successor Richard Moyo won the seat amid claims by the opposition that the new legislator, who is also the Matabeleland North Provincial minister is blocking campaigns by opposition members through his district structures.

Ward 4 CCC prospective councillor in the district, Mlungisi Dube said the opposition party was not allowed to campaign in Umguza.

“The opposition is not allowed to campaign in Umguza. The by-elections were supposed to be for Ward 14 and our candidate ended up giving up the contest owing to the threats of violence. As a result Zanu PF has grabbed the ward unopposed,” Dube said.

The CCC district chairperson Handy Mpofu confirmed that there was a lot of intimidation of his party members by the ruling Zanu PF especially in wards 8 to 19, a resettlement area where war veterans, most of them aligned to Zanu PF, were settled under the land reform programme.

“People in the Nyamandlovu area in Umguza live in fear. We had a candidate, who was supposed to contest by election for ward 14, but at the last minute he withdrew, he did not even come for nomination and we understand he was intimidated. So due to that, Zanu PF won the ward unopposed,” Mpofu said.

“There is a lot of intimidation especially in wards 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 up to 19. This is a place where war veterans live. We are trying by all means to tell the people what they should do to rescue themselves from this intimidation and poverty.  There are some who tell us that they are afraid to vote for CCC because they will be chased away from the resettlement area.”

Mpofu said there were very few local opposition leaders, who are brave enough to declare their allegiance to CCC and efforts were being made by the party to break through the area. He said Nyamandlovu was the only area in which CCC had challenges to penetrate, but  they were gaining ground in other parts of the district.

Matabeleland North CCC chairman Prince Dubeko Sibanda said they would not allow Zanu PF to intimidate them. He said they were gaining underground in Umguza and they would surprise Zanu PF in the 2023 elections.

“We cannot be intimidated by the minority, we are the majority in this province. Whenever they attempt to do that surely you can be assured that we will respond accordingly,” he said.

“Umguza will instead be a no go area for Zanu PF as soon as people start to support us openly.”

Matabeleland North Zanu PF chairman Richard Moyo, who is also Umguza legislator, dismissed the intimidation claims as unfounded.

“I do not know what they are talking about, because there is no by election in Umguza, the by election is only in Tsholotsho South and Binga North. In  Umguza we only had a by election in Ward 14 and the Zanu PF candidate won unopposed,” Moyo said.

He dismissed claims that an opposition candidate withdrew, saying: “They are lying, there is no one who withdrew, instead they fielded a candidate, who did not have requisite papers and he was disqualified by ZEC. They must not lie. If he was intimidated they must state, who intimidated him. My understanding is that they fielded a person without proper papers needed by ZEC and he was disqualified, that is all.”

The developments came at a time when reports emerged that Zanu PF Umguza district instructed local school development committees (SDCs) to record all teachers that did not turn up for duty since the schools opened and submit their names to the constituency offices.

The instruction was sent to the SDCs by the party’s district coordinating committee raising fears that teachers might be targeted for violence during elections.

Teachers across the country did not report for duty on the opening day citing incapacitation even after the government increased their salaries by 20% and restored the US$75 allowances.

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