THE July 30 election campaign trail has claimed the life of a two-year-old who was reportedly abducted and brutally killed by suspected Zanu PF activists at the weekend after his father Rambai Lumbe defected to the opposition National People’s Party (NPP) where he is Mazowe North parliamentary candidate, NewsDay has learnt.
Addressing mourners at his Sunridge Farm in Glendale yesterday, the distraught Lumbe, said he was finding it difficult to stomach the death of his son, Professor, whose heavily bruised body was recovered about two kilometres from the family home on Sunday.
The incident has raised fears of a repeat of the bloody 2008 presidential run-off election where over 300 opposition MDC-T supporters were killed and thousands others internally displaced by suspected State security agents and Zanu PF militia.
Lumbe, who defected from Zanu PF in 2014 to join former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s ZimPF and later NPP where he is Mashonaland Central provincial secretary, said prior to the incident some local ruling party activists had visited his home and warned him to leave opposition politics or risk losing his family.
“My son, Professor went missing on Saturday afternoon, but was only found dead by some kids harvesting soya beans on Sunday. This came as no surprise considering that we are living in a politically-charged environment where I receive a number of threats on my family,” Lumbe said.
“There are a number of cases where Zanu PF activists came and threatened me saying I was not a member of Zanu PF anymore, so I didn’t deserve to stay on the land that I was given by Zanu PF. I was told clearly that my involvement in opposition politics endangers my family.
“I started receiving threats in 2014 when I joined the then ZimPF (Mujuru’s first opposition party). At one point, Zanu PF youths came to my plot and tried partitioning it amongst themselves claiming since I was in opposition politics, I was supposed to leave. Their warning was straight-forward that I was putting my family in danger and I was supposed to make a choice.”
His wife, Nomatter Midzi said it was unfortunate that her son died under unclear circumstances although she suspects that their political rivals who always subjected them to all sorts of intimidation were responsible.
“I am convinced that my son was murdered because for some time, Zanu PF people were telling us that my husband’s political activism will endanger my family at some point. They failed to destroy him and then chose to attack my son aged two years, seven months,” she said.
She added: “I am convinced it’s Zanu PF people because in many cases, since we stay close to the road, they would pass through shouting that if my husband continues with opposition politics, then they will not spare us.”
She, however, said it was unfortunate that political differences would get to this level.
Like her husband, Nomatter said everyone should be allowed to express their political views without any form of intimidation.
Mourners gathered at the funeral said it was deplorable that people could attack each other over political differences. They said since the national political leadership, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa were preaching the gospel of peace, it was only prudent to follow his wise counsel.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF Mashonaland provincial chairman Kazembe Kazembe dismissed the allegations as “false”.
“I don’t know about that. I even don’t know NPP candidates. To be honest, I have never heard about that kind of intimidation. People must appreciate the message from our President and all of us we don’t condone violence at all. However, I have no idea of such an incident,” Kazembe said.
NPP national standing committee member and People’s Rainbow Coalition provincial elections director Julius Musevenzi condemned the intimidation and physical violence against the opposition by suspected ruling party activists.
“Whilst ED and Zanu PF are talking about free and fair elections, for us this has just become a talk of the day and artificial. The reality is that people on the ground particularly in the farming community of newly resettled areas suffer a lot of intimidation from Zanu PF. This means any former Zanu PF member who joins another party becomes an enemy,” Musevenzi said.
“These people are a threat to Zanu PF and they have a huge following. As PRC, we do condemn such kind of violence.”
Mashonaland Central police spokesperson Petros Masikati said although police were investigating a case of suspected murder, he had no knowledge of the involvement of any political party.