ZEC sets up polling station at Zanu PF “torture camp”

March 24, 2022

Brenna Matendere

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has set up a polling station at an alleged ruling Zanu PF torture base in Mbizo constituency, Kwekwe, ahead of the March 26 by-elections.

There have been reports over the years of the Black Wadada base being home to a terror group known as Al-Shabaab.

Opposition members and other people considered foes by the ruling party militia and the local political godfathers have been reportedly dragged to Black Wadada—located in Mbizo 9’s Ward 12—where they have been tortured even in broad daylight, sometimes fatally.

The base is situated behind a shopping centre dominated by drinking outlets.

The electoral commission has set up three tents to be used as polling booths at Black Wadada.

Members of the opposition who spoke to Grazers News feared that there would be a low turnout at the Black Wadada polling station due to fear.

They predicted that polling agents and election monitors from the opposition may either be chased away or fail to turn up, increasing chances of ballot stuffing.

Settlement Chikwinya, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) parliamentary candidate for Mbizo, confirmed the setting up of the Black Wadada station.

He added that he had complained to ZEC.

“Black Wadada, a known terror base for Zanu PF where the Al-Shabaab….has been turned into a polling station that houses three booths. We as CCC have raised concern over the security of the voter and the ballot at this station,” said Chikwinya.

The commission promised to remove the polling station from Black Wadada, said Chikwinya, but it had not acted on its promise by Thursday, two days away from the elections.

“We would have favoured the transfer of the polling station to a secure place like the Classbell primary school which is nearby. We have picked information that the youths at the terror base actually want to bar voters from accessing the polling station,” he said.

Zanu PF youths have been camping at the base and local drinking places for days, Grazers News was told, playing loud music that extols the ruling party while taunting passers-by using vulgarities.

The youths mainly comprise machete-wielding gangs that have in the past hacked people to death in broad daylight but escaped prosecution.

Vongaishe Mupereri, the Zanu PF candidate for Mbizo, and Assan Mkwananzi, the ZEC Kwekwe district elections officer did not pick calls or answer messages sent to them when sought for comment.

In past elections, the opposition has repeatedly cried foul over the controversial location of some polling stations.

At the 2013 elections MDC-T cried foul that ZEC had set up a station next to the Zanu PF offices at Tongogara in Shurugwi North. The station was also used as the local command centre.

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