Leaked confidential documents show that Mugabe’s regime has since November 2010 been recruiting impoverished youths from rural areas and giving them military training.
Codenamed ‘Operation Return to ZANU’ the regime is said to be planning on training up to 70 000 youths by the end of May 2011 and these will be deployed to terrorize perceived opposition supporters. Recruitment has mainly been conducted in Mashonaland West, East and Central provinces, traditionally viewed as ZANU PF strongholds and home to some of the worst political violence over the years.
Already some of the graduates have helped beat up MDC activists at the party’s offices in Mbare, destroyed the house of local councillor Paul Gorekore over the weekend and disrupted council business at Harare’s Town House on Wednesday. We have been told 70 youths were trucked into Mbare from the Inkomo barracks, using a white Nissan UD registration number AAM 7901.
Apart from terrorizing opposition supporters, the youths have been tasked with forcing people to purchase ZANU PF membership cards, ahead of possible elections. For example in the Mangisi area of Chief Sayi, in Gokwe South, people are being forced to buy ZANU PF cards. The main culprits in the intimidation have been identified as Joshua Mutero Bhebhe and Marvellous Dhobhani.
In Mhondoro, Ngezi, the MDC district chairman has reported that 45 ZANU PF youths were deployed into his area last week. ‘They are going from ward to ward seeing the Sabhuku’s (headmen) and telling them that they don’t want to see MDC (supporters) in their area.” He also said they are referring to MDC supporters as ‘black-whites’ in an apparent campaign to whip up hatred.
SW Radio Africa also has information that a senior police officer (name withheld) has vowed to stop this campaign of violence and intimidation. He is said to have visited the main police stations in the provinces and briefed them on how to put a halt to the campaign. Whether he will succeed is another matter.
On Tuesday morning 45 youths, who were said to be en-route to Harare from Zvimba North and South, were intercepted by Norton Police. They were briefly kept there for ‘verification’. The youths told police they were on their way for training (at Inkomo army barracks) and had instructions on this from local ZANU PF MP Patrick Zhuwawo, who is also Mugabe’s nephew.
SW Radio Africa has also been told the Deputy Commissioner (DC) in charge of crime instructed his officers that the youths be kept at the police station until she had questioned MP Zhuwawo on why he was bussing them into Mbare.
The Commissioner is said to have issued further instructions to police stations and heads of departments ‘that they are to accept and record all reports of intimidation and violence and further to that, they have to send her copies of all reports. She has said she does not want reports ‘going missing’. If politicians interfere with the course of justice she is to be informed immediately,” the report said.
Meanwhile we have also received reports that Mugabe’s regime is updating its equipment to once again jam broadcasts from independent radio stations, like us. Jamming stations at Makuti, Harare and other places are allegedly being revamped, so that they are ready for the elections.