By A Correspondent- Ruling Zanu PF party activists have been accused of intimidating suspected Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters as well as threatening to confiscate agricultural inputs they received from government ahead of by-elections held on Saturday.
By-elections were held in Gutu West to fill a vacant parliamentary seat.
There were also local government elections in Hurungwe, Kusile, Nkayi, Vungu and Zvimba.
Zanu PF won all the contested seats except Kusile that went to the CCC.
In a statement, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) condemned the intimidation of CCC supporters.
“There was a report of intimidation in Jotsholo Village 13 of Kusile ward 13, where it was reported that Zanu PF allegedly threatened to confiscate seed and fertiliser donations from villagers suspected of supporting the CCC party,” the report said.
“Zesn continues to encourage registered voters’ participation and voting in peace in all National Assembly and local authority elections as these are important and accord voters the opportunity to choose leaders of their choice who will be responsible for service delivery in their areas.”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) last week also identified Zanu PF activists as the main perpetrators of political violence ahead of the by-elections.
Zanu PF acting director for information, Farai Marapira, however, said that the accusations were not true.
“The President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) has been very clear on this issue of us operating democratically and peacefully,” Marapira said.
“This is not Zanu PF characteristics and in the absence of evidence, we cannot say that this thing has happened because we have seen a lot of false accusations that come from the opposition. I do not believe that something like this actually happened.”
Meanwhile, Zesn noted with concern the low turnout in the by-elections, with an average of 35%.
“The low turnout clearly indicates that voters have less interest in local authority by-elections,” the report said.
“As of midday, Zesn observers noted that across the five polling stations in Kusile RDC [rural district council] ward 13, voter turnout stood at 32%.
“Across all the polling stations where Zesn had observers in Hurungwe RDC, voter turnout stood at between 25% and 30% as at midday. In Nkayi RDC ward 11, voter turnout stood at 40% after 578 out of 1 452 registered voters voted,” it said.
Only Gutu West had the highest number of people who turned out to vote, with an average of 60%.
Zesn called on political parties to promote voter education and awareness of local government elections to boost participation in electoral processes.
“Political parties should make efforts to increase the political literacy of their supporters so as to raise the level of interest in local authority elections.” NewsDay