HARARE – Suspected Zanu PF youths stabbed and critically injured an MDC supporter in Chiwundura last week, a faith-based rights group said, continuing a wave of attacks in the run-up to the July 15 by-election.
The National Assembly seat fell vacant following the death of Kizito Chivamba last month.
The by-election has seen the worst spell of political violence for years, stirred in part by intra-party Zanu PF violence in a primary election that saw 21 candidates contesting.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said Zanu PF primary elections were held amid serious factional skirmishes as well as political intolerance spearheaded by ruling party youths.
“It is alleged that a day prior to the primary elections a number of youths, who had been paid to carry out campaigns on behalf of candidates clashed near the Sino-Zimbabwe cement company in Chiwundura constituency.
“It is reported an MDC youth, Ashley Mdutshwa, was met in the crossfire and left seriously injured after he was attacked by the same Zanu PF youths.
“Mdutshwa is reported to have been stabbed by the Zanu PF youths at Gambiza Business Centre on May 21, for reasons that are still unclear but believed to have been political,” ZPP said in an alert, adding the incident that saw Mdutshwa being stabbed was reported to the police but no arrests have been made to date.
Twenty one candidates contested the primary elections ahead of Friday’s Nomination Court sitting.
Mbalekwa was declared winner after amassing 1 511 votes, with Brown Ndlovu coming in second with 1 196 while Celton Charamba got 1 161 and Bigboy Mzila got 660.
Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere declared that Zanu PF will not recognise Mbalekwa and the party has since settled for the second runner-up to represent it.
Mbalekwa was reported to have “voluntarily withdrawn,” saying his child who is abroad was not feeling well and felt his attention will be divided and won’t cope with the immense pressure of elections.
The Nomination Court sat at the Gweru Magistrates’ Courts on Friday in line with Sub-section 17 (c) of Section 46 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) to receive nominations of candidates to contest in the by-election.
Four candidates successfully filed their papers: Ndlovu of Zanu PF, Takudzwa Guzete of NCA, Brighton Mudzviti of FreeZim Congress and Webster Zulu of PDZ.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) — the largest independent observer group in the country — condemned the violence.
“Zesn calls upon the nominated candidates and political parties in the by-election to observe peace and tolerate divergent views.
“Zesn also calls upon Zec to liberalise voter education in order to reach out to as many eligible voters as possible within the constituency,” it said in a statement.