Zanu PF Strong-arm Citizens to Attend Its Rallies: ZESN

In a 15 page report titled “Respect for human rights and implications for free and fair elections consolidated ballot report update 2011”, ZESN said political tolerance is still very low in Zimbabwe as the country prepares to hold elections to end the coalition government formed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The pressure group said it deployed 210 “long term” observers in 2011 to monitor different constituencies from April to December the same year and that “1800 questionnaires were collected and analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).”

“33% of reports revealed that people were forced to attend Zanu PF meetings. 27% of reports showed that citizens were forced to buy Zanu PF party cards,” ZESN said.

“Asked if people were able to exercise their right to free expression, 64 % of reports show that citizens were unable to express themselves freely.”

“The political landscape of Zimbabwe was such that citizens were not able to express themselves even through wearing their party regalia. 53 % of reports show that citizens are not free to wear party regalia unless it is Zanu PF,” the pressure group said.
ZESN said parties such as the Movement for Democratic Change formations including the civic society have been banned by police from holding political rallies or meetings while Zanu PF holds meetings unhindered.

“To bring finality to the Zimbabwean crisis, there is need for an election that ushers in a legitimate government chosen by the people. Elections are meant to provide citizens with real and genuine opportunities to make choices,” ZESN said.

“Let the citizens speak through the ballot.”

Zimbabwe which held disputed polls in 2008 marred by violence blamed on Zanu PF supporters will hold fresh elections after a new constitution has been adopted.

Mugabe has said he wants elections this year while Tsvangirai has said reforms must be implemented in the electoral, security and broadcast media sectors to have free and fair elections.