FORMER MDC-T MP Anadi Sululu has alleged that traditional leaders in Silobela constituency were being threatened by Zanu PF activists and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to force their subjects to vote for the ruling party in the forth-coming general elections.
BY JULIET MAKWAMA
Sululu who served as Silobela MP during the seventh Parliament and is now re-contesting the seat, told NewsDay on Wednesday that some traditional chiefs had confided in him that they were being pressured by top ruling officials in the area to ensure the seat does not go back to the opposition.
He lost the constituency to sitting Zanu PF MP Manoki Mpofu.
“I lost the seat in 2013 because of rigging and people were bussed in, and threatened by chiefs and headmen.
“Currently during the campaigns, it is the Zanu PF activists who are a problem and some chiefs in the area have told me that they have been visited by the CIO and told that if Zanu PF loses the elections, there are going to be serious problems in Silobela,” he said.
Sululu said as an aspiring candidate, he was concerned that this trend might affect the outcome of the elections because chiefs are important people in their chiefdoms and people listen to what they say.
He said political violence had a huge effect on voting patterns in rural areas.
“The other problem is that already there is vote-buying and the ruling party also has a tendency of giving out handouts in the form of food, and taking advantage of the vulnerable rural people. Zanu PF is dishing out rice and mealie meal to campaign,” he said.
But Zanu PF Midlands spokesperson Cornelius Mupereri refuted the claims that his party was intimidating chiefs.
“That is ridiculous because firstly, there is no food distribution going on because even the Social Welfare Department is no longer distributing food aid because of the bumper harvest. Secondly, we do not even intimidate chiefs and headmen. That is talk by someone who is staring at the face of defeat. We will never do any vote-buying and people will vote for the best candidate,” Mupereri said.
The aspiring MP said if he wins the Silobela seat in the forthcoming elections, he will fight to root out corruption as bigwigs were looting gold in the area which had remained poor despite being endowed with the precious mineral.
“Silobela is a gold-rich area and yet it is one of the poorest rural constituencies. We need stadiums, electricity and running water in the constituency, even if it is rural. When I was MP I managed to drill nine boreholes, but I would like to see the constituency developing and having tap water,” he said.
Sululu also blasted the ruling Zanu PF party for neglecting rural areas, yet the majority of voters were from rural areas.
He said they were only interested in looting natural resources in Silobela.