African Press Association

Attend Mugabe rallies or die, youths declare

zanuFrom MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s party is reportedly threatening citizens with death and forcing schoolchildren to attend rallies of the aged leader ahead of Zimbabwe’s watershed elections in 2018.Militant Zanu-PF youths are accused of the human rights and electoral rights violations as Mugabe endures dwindling support and faces the sternest test to his decades-long stranglehold on power.The opposition also raised concern businesses were forcibly closed and vendors’ markets shut down ahead of rallies.Latest rallies have been held in the eastern city of Marondera and Mutare town bordering Mozambique.The official opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said this did not bode well for free and fair elections next year.“The people of Zimbabwe are still being intimidated and threatened with death and/or some other such grievous consequences if they refuse to attend these Zanu-PF rallies that are being addressed by Mugabe countrywide,” MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu alleged.He called on electoral authorities, Southern African Development Community and African Union to intervene.
“How can a free and fair election be held in an atmosphere of extreme fear and intimidation?” Gutu quipped.
He nonetheless maintained the party would win the polls if the playing field was levelled.
“We urge Zimbabweans to remain resolute and determined to vote the evil and rapacious Zanu-PF regime out of power in next year’s elections.”The nongovernmental organisation, Zimbabwe Peace Project, also alleged citizens were forced to contribute money for the organisation of Mugabe’s rallies.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently dismissed the allegations by opposition and rights groups.“It is not Zanu-PF policy to force people to attend rallies,” Mugabe’s said in response to a parliamentary enquiry.
Mugabe (93) faces a revived opposition in his quest to retain power held since independence in 1980.
– CAJ News