2nd April 2002

Refugees flee from ZANU PF Terror

At least 1.000 people have been displaced in Zaka and Gutu districts alone because of post-election violence in Masvingo province three weeks after the presidential election. Following President Mugabe's controversial election victory, scores of Zanu PF youths have embarked on a witch-hunt against suspected MDC supporters. Mushagashe training centre, about 20 kilometres north of Masvingo town, has been turned into a Zanu PF training camp, where scores of youths are being churned out every week. Retired army captain Francis Zimuto, also known as Black Jesus, is leading the training exercise. The militia have unleashed a reign of terror in Zaka and more than 500 teachers and MDC activists including polling agents, have so far fled the district fearing for their lives.

Shaky Matake, the MDC provincial vice-chairman in Masvingo province, said the situation remained tense in parts of rural Masvingo. "So far the number of people affected by the post-election violence runs into thousands, including our polling agents in the recent election," he said. "Intimidation and harassment of our supporters has become the order of the day in Zaka and Gutu districts. We have a number of people who fled their homes soon after Mugabe's victory and the situation is getting serious." Some teachers at Chimedza and Chitonhora schools in Zaka have been given orders not to return to their schools next term.

In Gutu North, which is represented by Vice-President Simon Muzenda, political violence has seen known MDC supporters fleeing Wachi village for the urban areas. In Gutu South, some people are reportedly sleeping in the bush because Zanu PF militants continue to raid the villages at night and beat up people. The youths are camped at Nerupiri Secondary School. One of the victims, Opus Ruocha of Gutu South, said he fled his home after receiving death threats from war veterans and members of the youth brigade. Ruocha, who is the MDC organising secretary for Gutu South, said: "I am no longer staying at my home. Zanu PF supporters have compiled a list of people they have targeted for killing and I am one of them. Teachers suspected of being MDC activists have been given notices to leave their schools. We are saying if you did not rig this election, why are you beating us up?" (ZWNews / Daily News)

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