Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has announced that police will be on high alert to ensure peace prevails countrywide during tomorrow’s by-elections.
Sixteen political parties are contesting for 28 National Assembly seats to replace those that died, recalled or redeployed.
The bulk of vacancies are as a result of recall disputes within opposition ranks. Some political parties will contest in a few constituencies, while Zanu-PF, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and MDC-Alliance will contest in all or almost all the 28 constituencies.
There will also be by-elections for 117 local authority wards that occurred since the last harmonised elections in 2018.
In an interview yesterday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe warned that those who engage in violence will face the wrath of the law.
“The by-elections are around the corner and we want to urge our citizens to campaign peaceful.
In the event that people decide to take the law into their own hands by engaging in any form of violence or any unruly behaviour, police will be out in force to ensure that such elements are accounted for,” he said
“As the President always emphasises that the country is built by its own people (nyika inovakwa nevene vayo), equally we should shun violence because it can’t build our country. Elections come and go and therefore we need to remain peaceful.”
Minister Kazembe said there will be enough security manpower to ensure peaceful elections.
“Our police officers have been deployed all over the country and they will remain vigilant and alert throughout the election period.
They are ready to deal with malcontents and I therefore urge citizens to remain peaceful.
We are optimistic that we will have peaceful elections.”
The opposition CCC party at the weekend barred State media journalists from covering its rally in Masvingo city amid reports of intra-party violence by drunk youths.
The Masvingo High Court had allowed CCC to hold its Masvingo provincial star rally at Rujeko Open Grounds after police had initially refused to sanction the event on the basis that the ruling Zanu-PF had similar events near the CCC’s proposed site.
True to concerns earlier raised by police, there were incidents of violence involving CCC party youths who appeared to be high on drugs and alcohol.
Early this month, three suspected CCC party members appeared in court on charges of public violence after hurling bricks at an Epworth man, rendering him unconscious after he refused to support the opposition party during their door-to-door campaign.
It is alleged that Nobody Makoni (52), Patricia Zihanzu (50) and Agnes Mabhena (48), in the company of 10 other party supporters who are still at large, went to the house of Stanley Muchemwa in Belapezi, Epworth, all clad in CCC regalia.
Under the guise of carrying a door-to-door campaign for tomorrow’s by-elections, Mr Nelson Chamisa’s supporters then allegedly approached Muchemwa soliciting for his membership, but Muchemwa told them that he was not interested in supporting their party.
Irked by his position, Makoni, Zihanzu, Mabhena and their accomplices allegedly started hurling bricks at Muchemwa’s homestead and other nearby houses.
They allegedly attacked Muchemwa with bricks on the head, forehead, chin and right shoulder leaving him unconscious.
The matter was reported to police leading to their arrest.
The trio has since appeared in court and are out on bail of $5 000 each.
Last month, police arrested 16 suspects in connection with violence where one person died while three were seriously injured at an aborted CCC rally in Kwekwe.
Mr Chamisa was forced to abandon his rally address at Mbizo shops after violence erupted.
There was commotion among the crowd and Mr Chamisa had to be whisked away from the podium by his aides, while some journalists could be seen scurrying for cover as commotion ensued.
Police were later called in to intervene.
Article Source: The Chronicle