SW Radio Africa (London)

7 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Legislator Challenges Soldiers to End Violence Against MDC-T

A legislator from the MDC-T has appealed to soldiers deployed around the country to stop harassing, intimidating and assaulting the electorate. She said they should instead engage in development projects like building schools and upgrading hospitals and dams.

The plea came from Kadoma Central MP Editor Matamisa, who told SW Radio Africa on Friday that Zimbabweans need to say enough is enough, and demand observers in the country months before the constitutional referendum. She said this would allow the A.U., SADC and U.N. to witness the process leading to elections.

Matamisa voiced this challenge last Friday, during a parliamentary debate on Mugabe's opening speech. The ZANU PF leader had repeated his call for a peaceful, free and fair election during a recent opening of parliament.

"Let us all shun violence in all its manifestations and latent forms, especially as we look forward to our national elections," Mugabe is quoted as saying.

But Matamisa said there has been no peace and the elections will not be free or fair if the current conditions remain.

"Soldiers are almost everywhere now in the rural areas, with a single mission, to instil fear in the electorate even before the referendum on the constitution. So we are really worried as the MDC-T about the situation on the ground. Parliament does not know why the soldiers are being deployed."

Matamisa said she told parliament that soldiers were used for developmental projects in the past, building schools and painting hospitals and upgrading the infrastructure. But a lot of money is now being wasted recruiting more of them at a time when resources are scarce.

She added: "We don't have resources to be deploying soldiers out there and feeding them while they do nothing except instil fear in the generality of the Zimbabwean people. The money could go to alleviating maternity fees for women and children. And we are saying enough is enough."

Matamisa revealed that soldiers have been deployed in several constituencies, especially in Gokwe, and the MDC-T are worried that all their rallies will be disrupted by violence.

Just last week scores of MDC-T members were injured after a brutal assault by a group of armed soldiers who descended on their rally at Samambwa business centre in Zhombe, Midlands North province.

The attack left 40 injured. Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai said soldiers should not be terrorizing citizens who they are supposed to be protecting from external attacks.

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