“This sort of intimidation is quite typical of what’s happening all over the country”
I am convinced this video is authentic, not only because meetings were indeed scheduled in these places on these dates, but because I recognized the dialects being spoken as belonging to these regions.This sort of intimidation is quite typical of what’s happening all over the country these days; I have received many reports of similar incidents, both in cities and in rural areas. The threats of beating heard in the video are not mere talk – on May 26, an opposition supporter was lynched by ZANU-PF supporters. [Witnesses reported that the police on the scene did not intervene]. I believe this was a clear result of these types of intimidation tactics.Intimidation can take multiple forms. The most common are direct threats to people who sympathise with the opposition or their family members, which includes threats of beatings and destruction of property. Many people are also forced to attend political meetings and buy party membership cards. Another common threat in rural areas is banishment – village leaders have the power to expel people from their communities. People who rent stores or stands in markets are also often required to pledge allegiance to a party in order to keep their spots.“People who are threatened cannot count on the help of the police”In Zimbabwe, people cannot count on the police if they are threatened by supporters of political parties. Police chiefs have openly expressed their support for ZANU-PF, so that makes it difficult for rank-and-file police officers to go against this party’s interests. Moreover, there is an atmosphere of impunity. Vigilante groups have been roaming the streets of cities causing violence; the police clearly have the capacity to deal with them, but it seems that they have decided to ignore it when it’s in the interest of the politicians they support. The policing system needs a major overhaul. Currently, too many people who took part in or allowed the 2008 violence remain in positions of power.As we approach the elections, more and more political meetings are taking place, and tension is increasing. I think it’s quite likely that intimidation will once again give way to bloodshed.