Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is being forced to “sneak” into some parts of rural areas for safety reasons following previous attempts on his life by suspected Zanu PF activists and state agents.
Hundreds of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters in Bikita were on Wednesday stunned to see Chamisa showing up unexpectedly in Nhodovari village, in Makuvaza ward 5, to attend the burial of staunch party member Langton Musavhaya who had passed away on Monday.
Upon hearing of the presence of Chamisa in the area, scores of party supporters from distant villages descended on the village to join the funeral at the Musavhaya homestead after Chamisa’s arrival.
Local CCC leaders who spoke to The Standard said Chamisa’s visit had not been publicised to avoid possible violent clashes that have accompanied most of his rural visits since last year.
“Chamisa’s visits here have of late been violently disrupted by Zanu PF activists and it has necessitated that ways be found to avoid this and allow him to visit us without fearing for his life and without his followers being attacked,” a local party leader who refused to be named said.
“The visit had to be made secret because of what had been happening in the past. There is no doubt that if the visit had been publicised, Zanu PF would have tried to stop president Chamisa from passing through.
“This is one of our many strategies to make sure that victory is certain come 2023, despite various obstacles.”
The CCC leader had to call off the rally after top Zanu PF officials took over the venue claiming they had booked it for their rally.
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CCC spokesperson Gift Siziba said the secrecy in Chamisa’s itinerary was meant to protect him following several assassination attempts on his life.
“Given the surge in the cases of politically motivated violence against the CCC and clear assassination attempts on the president, there is need to put in place plans that ensure the safety of the President,” Siziba said.
“CCC rallies have been marred by Zanu PF violence. We have seen roadblocks being manned by Zanu PF to block our president from passing through. It is against this background that we have seen it prudent that the itinerary of the principal be accessible only to those that are cleared.
“Of course, there are freedoms that everyone should enjoy but those freedoms have been violated on several occasions. We have to have in place measures to ensure that we meet the citizens.”
Countless rallies set to be addressed by Chamisa have been violently disrupted by Zanu PF party activists and suspected state security agents since last year, with his motorcade often attacked.
Last month in Gokwe scores of opposition supporters and journalists from the private media were severely assaulted at illegal roadblocks mounted by Zanu PF supporters.
Chamisa was scheduled to address a campaign rally later on the day to drum up support for the party’s Gokwe-Kabuyuni parliamentary by-election candidate Costin Muguti.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa rubbished CCC claims that the ruling party was sabotaging Chamisa’s campaign rallies.
“These are utter lies. Why is he not attacked here in Harare? What CCC doesn’t know is that nothing succeeds like success itself. President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) vatiza nechimuti (The President is winning the race. That is why there is all this much whining. We are competing and cannot be campaigning for our rivals,” Mutsvangwa said.
Efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi were in vain as his mobile number was not reachable.
Addressing mourners at the Bikita funeral wake last week Chamisa called for peace ahead of the 2023 elections and said the late Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe had endorsed him to take the presidency.
“CCC is the party of choice. Even the late former president realised that Zanu PF had nothing to offer and ordered people to vote for me,” Chamisa said.
After he was deposed in a military coup in 2017, Mugabe said he would vote for Chamisa ahead of the 2018 elections to spite his long-time allies in Zanu PF who ousted him in a de facto coup.
Mugabe told reporters at his mansion in Harare that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was unconstitutional and that ED ruled by the gun.
“He (Mugabe) said his people turned against him. They removed him against his will …. Nomatter what they do, this time around our victory is certain,” Chamisa said.
“The late Mudhara Bhuradha was an advocate for peace and harmony. People should not hate each other because of their political differences,” Chamisa said.
“People tend to forget about humanity and focus on their political differences. Love one another. Do not hate each other. Unite as one. No one should have violent actions against another person. Young people should contribute to the development of the country and desist from violent insurrections.”
The country’s elections have been marred by political violence.
The run-up to the March by-elections this year were also characterised by political violence that claimed the life of an opposition CCC activist in Kwekwe.
Human rights’ watchdogs in their surveys have listed Zanu PF as the main perpetrators of political violence, a charge the ruling party denies.