By Marcus Mushonga
Harare — YOUTH militia belonging to the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe have struck fear into the hearts of traders and opposition members in the oldest township of Zimbabwe ahead of watershed elections next year. The Zanu-PF terror gangs have imposed an economic embargo against members of other political parties in Mbare and are carrying out violations with impunity with police officers reluctant to deal with the known perpetrators. The youth have run amok at Mbare Musika Market and in one incident burnt furniture and locked the premises at a bottle store whose management they accused of using to hold opposition meetings.
Operators of the Ngaritutwe Bottle Store have been ordered to cease operations. The area is an opposition Movement for Democratic Change stronghold but youth militia have declared the market is now a Zanu-PF territory. Anti-riot police have been called but have not intervened after rowdy youths ordered off the scene. In a chilling incident, youths have prepare a mock grave for an MDC supporter they identified as Jeff, who is accused of to attending Zanu-PF meetings and convening MDC meetings in Mbare, Harare’s oldest township. Many youths alleged they had been attacked but are afraid of reporting the incidents for fear of further victimisation. The Zimbabwe Peace Project bemoaned the violence. “Police and relevant human rights bodies must investigate the terror gangs in Mbare who are preventing other people from carrying out their economic activities.” Zanu-PF is accused of resorting to violence, vote buying and rigging to maintain power since 1980. Mugabe (93) faces his stiffest challenge in elections planned for 2018.