Thulani Dhlamini from ZAPU told a Zimbabwean London based radio on Thursday that the ZAPU executive in South Africa had sourced funding for the printing of t-shirts for a rally in Plumtree.
But he said the materials were confiscated last week by police, state agents and custom officials at the border with South Africa, who said the t-shirts were illegal. Dhlamini said even the single t-shirts they had as individuals were confiscated. The ZAPU official claims they were told by the authorities that ‘only ZANU and MDC T-shirts were allowed to be worn in Zim,’ and that they were undermining the unity government.
They were allegedly held in custody for 18 hours at the Beitbridge police station where they were subjected to interrogation about the names of party officials and their positions. Dhlamini said they were only released after being forced to apologise verbally to the Member in Charge for bringing the t-shirts into Zimbabwe. However, the pamphlets and t-shirts were not returned to them.
Meanwhile, the Matabeleland Freedom Party has also accused Zimbabwean border authorities of political harassment. MFP member David Magagula told us that officials at the border either confiscate opposition party regalia or charge exorbitant fees to make it impossible for the parties to ship their goods into Zimbabwe. Magagula claims he was recently charged R3 000 for about 150 t-shirts. He said: “This was exorbitant and far more than we had printed the t-shirts for. So we told them we were going back to South Africa with our t-shirts but we made as if we were returning and then we hid the t-shirts and passed.”
He accused the authorities of only ‘recognising ZANU PF and MDC’, and refusing to acknowledge that there are other parties in the country. He said: “Many people voted for MDC but it did not mean they liked the MDC or they liked Morgan Tsvangirai. It is only because they had no alternatives. It was a vote of protest because people don’t want Robert Mugabe.”
He claimed some border officials said Zimbabwe is now a two party state and called them ‘dissidents’. “That shows we are not wanted, why do we force ourselves to be Zimbabwean, when Zimbabweans do not want us.”
Controversially, the MFP does not want to be ruled by a person who is not from the Matabeleland region. Magagula said: “The party was formed so that we liberate Matabeleland from Mashonaland, along borders that were there before colonialism.”
Observers say ZANU PF continues leading the country down this trap of not recognising other political parties, creating intolerance and disharmony. Additionally the Gukurahundi massacres have still not been dealt with, and this will forever remain a painful issue in Matabeleland while the government continues to ignore it. SW Africa