CIVIL rights group, Habakkuk Trust has expressed concern that some of the wards in Matobo district’s resettlement areas where Zanu PF candidates were nominated unopposed demonstrated that the land reform programme was conducted on a partisan basis.
BY SILAS NKALA
Three local authority candidates representing Zanu PF in Matobo Wards 22, 23 and 25 were last month duly nominated without contest.
Habakkuk Trust indicated that the cited wards were predominantly resettlement areas established during the fast track land reform programme.
“In most of these areas, the political environment is reportedly calm and there is limited political activity. Some resettlement areas have a homogenic characteristic that poses negative impacts on the rights and freedoms of the people as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Worthy to note as the country heads towards its harmonised elections, is the issue of unopposed candidates,” the trust said in a statement.
Habakkuk Trust indicated that its long-term observer mission in Matobo Ward 23 showed that Zanu PF party supporters were being transported to other wards to give political support to the contesting candidates.
“In Ward 25, the candidate is reported to be conducting door-to-door campaigns aimed at drumming up support for the council candidate for the July 30 polls,” said the trust.
Navigator Sibanda, a Habakkuk Trust action team member in the ward, said although people were advised to contest under any political party of their choice, no one submitted their papers to the nomination court.
“There is only one council candidate in this ward and she has a community meeting on Friday to introduce herself to the whole community,” said Sibanda.
“There is no opposition party in this ward because in the previous elections we were told that resettlement areas are all under Zanu PF and no other party was allowed.”
Most villagers in these areas were settled by the ruling party during the land invasion and they do not have official lease documents, hence they vote for Zanu PF in exchange for security of tenure.
Zanu PF has taken a firm foothold ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections after it landed 46 wards in various local councils unopposed as opposition political parties failed to field candidates.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), in terms of Section 125 (4) of the Electoral Act, has since published names of candidates nominated to stand in local government elections.