2008 election violence memories relived


HARARE – For people tortured during the 2008 election period in Chiweshe, the scars are still fresh and the name Zanu PF spells fear and sadness for them.

During the weekend, a memorial service of victims of political violence was held and victims gave chilling testimonies of the brutality inflicted on them by supposed Zanu PF activists.

But it was a testimony by a woman who lost her father and was also severely tortured that moved the crowd the most.

Tendai Chirisere whose father, Martin was “cruelly murdered” by the party’s suspected youths in the run-up to the 2008 elections gave a harrowing tale of how Zanu PF youths brutally attacked her father in 2008.

“We were awakened by some noise outside our house as a group of Zanu PF youths called my father’s name.

“They claimed he was an MDC member and a sell-out who should die. We were taken to a certain church where they started assaulting us. I remember one of them attempted to rape me but thank God, he was reprimanded by his friends,” narrates Chirisere.

To her, Zanu PF is synonymous with torture and death.

“I was beaten with fists and logs, they wanted me dead. We were beaten for almost two hours and my father lost a lot of blood in the process.

“They took his head and placed it in an unidentified pesticide to quicken his death. It is very painful,” recalled a tearful Chirisere.

She said if Zanu PF would bring back her father, compensate her for injuries she suffered during the 2008 elections, then she would respect them.

“Any man who wants to marry me will live with the fact that today I am disabled. I cannot perform a number of house duties due to injuries I sustained,” said Chirisere.

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She said Zanu PF has no respect for God as they turned a Roman Catholic Church at Chaona Business Centre in Chiweshe into a torture base.

“Where on earth can normal people use a church to commit violence, it is very painful, sad and disgusting,” said Chirisere.

Chirisere claims she survived through God’s grace.

“I was almost dead; these people who call themselves Zanu PF supporters are evil. I do not want to mention anyone by name because I know they can come back and deal with me. What I can tell you is that these people are evil. Please do not befriend them, they killed my father, they can also do the same to you,” she said.

Chirisere’s father is among 200 MDC activists who were allegedly murdered in 2008 by soldiers and Zanu PF youths countrywide after President Robert Mugabe received his first election defeat from Tsvangirai during the first round.

Churches and other civic society organisations reported that thousands of MDC supporters became homeless after their houses were burnt down by Zanu PF youths.

Organisations such as Pan Africa Parliament (Pap) condemned the violence which characterised the 2008 run-off elections.

“The pre-election phase was characterised by politically-motivated violence, intimidation, and displacements.

“The process leading up to the presidential run-off elections did not conform to Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” reads a Pap report.

Another election mission team that observed the country’s polls, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (Eisa) said the results did not depict the will of the people.

“The Mission found the electoral process to be severely wanting in respect of fairness as most of the critical aspects of the process lacked transparency,” read the groups’ findings.

Mashonaland Central Province recorded some of the highest incidents of violence during the election time.

Chirisere’s plight is a tale of what thousands of Zimbabweans went through during the run-up to elections, and the brutal memories remain engraved in their hearts until justice prevails.

“I want to see these people in jail. If my father is not resurrected, it will be meaningless to talk about peace in Chiweshe. These people did this deliberately, knowingly that they will not be arrested,” she fumed.

“My father’s spirit will never rest until the people responsible for his death are dealt with,” said Chirisere. – Xolisani Ncube

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