Mutasa — A traditional leader has demanded that all MDC-T supporters surrender their party cards and regalia or risk failing to get food aid from government.
Cephas Mashingaidze, who is Headman Chidawanyika in Mutasa Central constituency, said all MDC-T supporters must join Zanu PF, the party that won the July 31 harmonised elections.
Chidawanyika made the remarks at a funeral at Nyarudzu homestead in Ward 17 last week, saying those who would fail to obey the order would also lose their farming plots.
"This country is being ruled by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. All the MDC supporters should come and surrender their party regalia and cards to me," he told mourners.
"Those who do not want to listen to my commands will lose their land because, as a traditional leader, I am the custodian of this land. This land does not belong to MDC, it belongs to Zanu PF and our ancestors."
Chidawanyika said: "We will soon be receiving some food aid from the government. That food is from President Mugabe and those who are MDC-T supporters will not receive that food.
"If they want that food then they should come and surrender their party cards and regalia to me."
Chidawanyika is alleged to be working closely with Innocent and Gerald Benza, who are commonly known as the "Benza Brothers".
Innocent Benza contested on a Zanu PF ticket and lost to Trevor Saruwaka of MDC-T in the July 31 harmonised elections.
MDC-T councillor for Ward 17, Denshed Duri confirmed that his party's supporters were being threatened WITH eviction from their land if they failed to surrender their party cards to the traditional leader.
"Our people have been openly told that they will not be allocated food," he said. "The food distribution is not a Zanu PF initiative, it is a government initiative. Food aid is for all the people and not Zanu PF supporters only."
But one of the Benza brothers, Gerald denied forcing MDC-T supporters to join the ruling Zanu PF party.
"Those are very false allegations. Actually we have told all our headmen and traditional leaders not to victimise anyone in terms of development in the constituency. We have been doing a lot of work for the people regardless of their political affiliation."
Gerald added: "We have not forced anyone to join Zanu PF, but they are the MDC supporters themselves including councillors who are defecting to Zanu PF because they have realised that Zanu PF is a party with a direction."
Saruwaka said MDC-T supporters must not be threatened by such cheap politicking.
"I want to remind the Zanu PF people that the MDC-T supporters are the majority in Mutasa Central constituency," he said. "We will fight hard to see to it that everyone gets food. Food aid is not a Zanu PF project.
"It involves different donors and NGOs [non-governmental organisations], so it will not be proper for Zanu PF and the headman to hijack the food distribution. We will be on the ground to monitor the food distribution process to make sure that everyone gets an allocation."