Heal Zimbabwe condemns the actions being perpetrated by some Traditional leaders who include mostly Village heads working in cahoots with ZANU PF Councillors and structures who are forcing community members in rural areas to make financial contributions towards the ZANU PF annual conference to be held in Masvingo in December 2016.
Heal Zimbabwe through its trained human rights monitors spread across all the provinces have recorded cases where villagers are being threatened that if they fail to make contributions, they will be denied food aid. In Mudzi North ward 1 in Marovha, villagers are being ordered to pay $0.50 cents per household towards the ZANU PF congress. In the same ward, an MDC-T member who refused to pay the money has since fled from the area after receiving numerous threats from the Village head, Faison Tonde.
In Gutu Ward 6, Mutonhori Rwodzi, a ZANU PF aspiring Member of Parliament for the 2018 elections on 20 October 2016, instructed Village heads in the area to collect $0.50 cents from community members as contribution to the ZANU PF annual conference. Village heads instructed include Mundeyiri, Mashingaidze, Manyanike, Bako, Chikerema, Muchenjekwa and Zemudzo. Similar cases have also been reported in Maramba Pfungwe ward 6. In some cases, villagers who fail to pay the money are threatened and reminded of the 2008 political violence where many were heavily assaulted and brutalised or threatened with food aid denial.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that such practices are not only an abuse of power but also go to show the insincerity of the ruling party given that rural communities are already reeling under the effects of drought and the cash crisis. Such practices also violate Section 67 of the Zimbabwean constitution that states that “…every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to form, join and to participate in the activities of a political party of their choice” In this view it is a violation of human rights to force people to participate in political initiatives against their choice.
It is sad to note that this practice is coming at a time when most rural communities are dependent on food aid due to the El Nino-induced drought and a biting economic crisis worsened by the pending introduction of bond notes. Heal Zimbabwe implores the ZANU PF led Government to desist from coercing people to fundraise for a political party against their will. Heal Zimbabwe also calls for the relevant Commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to launch an investigation into the reported cases. Government Ministries that distribute food such as the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should also distribute food without discrimination.