SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Increased Intimidation Ahead of Next Week's Elections

MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai has called on Zimbabweans to repudiate violence and hatred during and after the upcoming elections, in order to avoid a repeat of the 2008 mayhem.

The Prime Minister made the call during his rallies in Kotwa and Murehwa, Mashonaland East province, where he came face to face with voter intimidation. In Kotwa, vendors and shopkeepers were ordered not to sell airtime or food to anybody wearing an MDC-T shirt.

His rallies were also poorly attended after ZANU PF supporters went around the areas, using loud hailers threatening to deal with anyone seen going to the MDC-T rallies. About 500 ZANU PF youths invaded the venue of Tsvangirai's rally at Mutoko centre, scaring away people who had wanted to attend.

Reports say Tsvangirai, however, managed to address small crowds of between 500 and 2,000 at Mutoko centre and in Murehwa, advising supporters to go ahead and wear the ZANU PF regalia for their safety, but to exercise their free choice inside the ballot box.

Tsvangirai condemned the actions of the ZANU PF supporters. He told those who attended his rallies that intimidation and electoral violence has the potential to undermine and jeopardise the whole process.

He said recent reports of violent events and increasing tensions in the run-up to the elections are deeply worrying and urged all Zimbabweans 'to take the necessary steps to ensure that violence and hatred play no part in these elections.'

In Mutare on Tuesday, ZANU PF youths were seen running around the city threatening war or a military coup if President Robert Mugabe doesn't win the election.

In Chegutu last week a group of MDC youths led by Bento Tshuma was attacked at Pickstone mine area by ZANU PF activists, leaving at least 17 people injured. No one has been arrested from ZANU PF.

Earlier this week, a member of ZANU PF was arrested for erasing the president's face from campaign hats and selling them for $2 each. The alleged cottage industry was revealed by the mines minister Obert Mpofu, at a campaign rally in Bulawayo last Sunday, according to NewsDay, newspaper.

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