MDC-T deputy minister’s campaign team attacked
By Nomalanga Moyo
Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire was on Wednesday attacked by ZANU FP thugs while canvassing for his MDC-T party in Harare’s Mbare Constituency.
The outgoing MDC-T MP for Southerton and 13 members of his election team, who included 12 women, were on a door-to-door campaign when the youths waylaid them in a cul-de-sac.
According to the deputy minister, the ZANU PF youths took exception to his team’s presence in ‘their’ territory, leading to the attack.
Seven members of Chimanikire’s team were injured, including his driver and secretary who required stitches on the arm and head respectively, after the thugs smashed the team’s vehicle.
Chimanikire said: “We had just entered a close when they appeared from the very direction that we had come from. Their argument was that why were we organising and talking to people in their area, despite the fact that I have been MP for this place for more than eight years.”
He said efforts to reason with youths fell on deaf ears, as the thugs went on to physically attack the women, grabbing T-Shirts and other party regalia.
“After the women had fled, the youths then turned on me. I managed to escape into the nearest open gate, which was then locked,” Chimanikire added.
The deputy minister deplored the assault on his team which he said was symptomatic of the lack of leadership and discipline within ZANU PF.
“We identified some of the attackers as ZANU PF Youth District Chairpersons. They think that by disturbing our campaigns they will win votes for themselves. But judging by what happened in the last election where ZANU PF only got 1,441 votes, they are heading towards certain defeat,” said Chimanikire.
Two of the youths were arrested Wednesday, after the MDC-T campaign team identified them to the police.
However, Chimanikire said he will be taking up the issue of the violent attack with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and asking for the disqualification of the ZANU PF candidate.
“ZEC guidelines are clear that any candidate whose supporters engage in violence or in any act of misconduct will be disqualified,” he said.
Meanwhile Abel Chikomo, head of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, was shocked when he was summoned to appear in court on August 1st, on charges of running an “unregistered organisation.
Chikomo’s legal representatives, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, described the development as “another official harassment of civic organisations and human rights defenders”.
In a statement, the group said the charges arose after the human rights forum conducted a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb.
“The State claims that he unlawfully instructed two employees to commence or carry out a survey in Harare’s Highfield suburb with the intention to obtain people’s recommendations on the preferred transitional justice mechanism for Zimbabwe, without his organisation registering under the Private Voluntary Organisation Act,” the lawyers’ group said Thursday.
The charges against Chikomo first arose in February 2011 but were shelved after the State indicated that it was not ready to proceed with the matter.
Chikomo told SW Radio Africa that it is clear that the police were reviving the case to coincide with the crucial election period, in order to distract him from his work.
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