Some Zimbabweans Say Elections Evoke Memories Of Psychological Torture And Fear
Some Zimbabweans who spoke to The Independent have indicated that they are terrified as the 2023 elections approach saying they remind them of violence that characterised previous polls.
Fadzai Museka from Bikita’s Madhuku Village in Masvingo told the publication that any talk of elections evokes memories of sadness, psychological torture and fear.
Museka said she cannot forget the night of March 7, 2002, just two days into the presidential election campaigns when she was forced to desert her home and her then three-month-old baby.
Museka, then a member of the MDC member was running away from the ruling ZANU PF youth militia which wanted to “punish her” for supporting the opposition party formed in 1999. Museka told The Standard:
They wanted to punish me for supporting a party of my choice.
By staying away from politics, I have stayed safe. Never again have I been threatened on political grounds.
She said she has never been into a ballot box since then.
Electoral observers say violence has contributed to the growing voter apathy as millions of Zimbabweans have refused to take heed of calls by political parties to register to vote in the 2023 plebiscite.
Official statistics from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) show that 5 804 975 people are on the voters’ roll, a mere 2% increase from the 2018 figure of 5 695 706.
Zimbabwe has a total of eight million eligible voters in the country as estimated by electoral watchdogs.
A survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) this year revealed that the 2023 polls were the leading cause of distress among Zimbabweans as political tensions heighten.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika casts doubt on the possibility of authorities implementing the required electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair elections.
Elections Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga concurred with Kika saying the state’s continued failure to hold perpetrators of violence and right violators to account will only worsen the human rights and political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has a history of violent elections dating back to the era of Robert Mugabe who deployed the North Korean-trained 5th Brigade in the aftermath of independence to target then opposition ZAPU members, leading to the massacre of over 20 000 civilians.