The rally is being launched in this political hot bed area at a time when the European Union announced it would extend targetted sanctions on Zimbabwe for a year until the requirements of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), that brought about Zimbabwe’s shaky unity government, have been fulfilled.
The petition, set to be signed by over one million people, has already sparked political violence in Harare’s suburbs and other parts of the country as Zanu (PF) youths have been forcing people to sign it. Zanu (PF) is accusing the targetted sanctions for the economic woes Zimbabwe is facing.
Party insiders told Radio VOP on Wednesday that the party had put a high security alert in the city as a way to intimidate residents to go to Mucheke stadium in a bid to force them to sign the petition.
Residents say they are frightened by the presence of security forces every where in the city as well as constant harassment by the youth and war ‘vets’ who are threatening unprecedented violence to all those who will not attend the rally.
“We have been scared by the heavy presence of armed soldiers and police in virtually all the streets of the city, particularly in the high density residential areas. But we have since been told that the president is coming for a rally in Mucheke stadium by some youths and war ‘vets’ who have been visiting our homes since Monday. They have threatened us to be there or we will face violence,” said Edmore Gutu of Mucheke suburb.
He added that this was gross violation of their rights as they had a freedom to choose whether or not to attend rallies.
The Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) here condemned the actions by Zanu (PF) saying the party had resorted to forcing citizens in the country to attend its functions by using security forces because of its growing unpopularity.
“We are not amused by this continued use of force by Zanu (PF) on local citizens.It shows that they are now aware of their high level of unpopularity in the country so we urge it to respect people and desist from forcing them. People must attend these rallies by choice not by force,” said MDC-T provincial chairman, Wilstaff Stemere.
Efforts to get a comment from the Army and Police by Radio VOP were fruitless but Zanu (PF) defended its youths saying they were carrying a mobilisation exercise to its supporters ahead of a historic rally to be addressed by its president.
“We are moving around the residential areas mobilising our people to attend this historic rally to be addressed by our president a first in the fight against these sanctions by the west,” said Masvingo party spokesperson, Kudakwashe Mandebvu.