Cape Town - Zimbabwean troops are reportedly terrorising and intimidating villagers in Gokwe, where they are routinely addressing Zanu-PF campaign rallies and threatening "war" if the party loses in the forthcoming elections.
According to a NewsDay report, villagers said soldiers were encamped at Mapfungautsi Plateau, from where they were conducting several rallies at business centres and schools in the vast farming district.
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Colonel Alfios Makotore could not deny nor confirm the allegations, demanding, however to have the questions in writing, said the report.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who has repeatedly described state security sector reforms as a "no-go" area, denied that the party had engaged soldiers to lead its campaign.
"I have not received such reports. I think there are people pretending to be soldiers. I don’t think that our soldiers could get that far," Gumbo said.
Heavy military presence
The developments come at a time when military chiefs and Zanu-PF bigwigs have been repeatedly threatening anarchy if MDC leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wins the next presidential elections that President Robert Mugabe wants held in March.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed his party had received several reports of heavy military presence in most parts of the country, particularly the Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central and West provinces.
"The party has received reports that some soldiers are intimidating villagers and threatening them with war if they do not vote for Zanu-PF in the forthcoming elections," Mwonzora said.
"That is why we are calling for security sector reforms. We will engage the international community such as SADC, the African Union and even the United Nations. That is why we have always said President Mugabe is indicating left, but turning right. He preaches peace and acts war. He is not bona fide in his calls for peace."