Home / General / My house was burned down because of my views, says Zimbabwean father-of-five

My house was burned down because of my views, says Zimbabwean father-of-five

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission denied there was any interference in the country’s first elections since Robert Mugabe stood down last year, despite accusations to the contrary.

Here, opposition supporter David Chamanga describes what happened to him when he tried to canvas for votes for his party in a village where the ruling Zanu-PF has strong support.

After the election, I went with my wife and five children to church, where we were supposed to spend the whole night.



David Chamanga had his home burnt down on the eve of election day




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Video:
‘My home is ruined – I don’t know where to start’

At around midnight, one of the neighbours came to the church to alert me that my home had been set on fire.

I went there straight away and found my house had been destroyed by fire.

It was not the first time I have been subjected to violence. I am an organiser for the MDC-A party.

Before the general election, on 30 July this year, I was moving around putting up posters to campaign for the MDC-A.

As I was doing so, I was being threatened, by Zanu-PF supporters. My family were threatened too.

David says he doesn't know what to do
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Mr Chamanga says he doesn’t know what he is going to do, since he lost everything

They accosted me and my wife, threatening to kill us.

On voting day, the Zanu-PF supporters and the party’s polling agents were going around the queues threatening voters to influence how they would vote. They would use vague language, but voters understood what they were trying to say.

At that point I wasn’t scared, but upon realising that my home had been destroyed, I had no option but to flee. I realised the threats were real.

David acted as an election monitor and was an agent for the MDC
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Mr Chamanga acted as an election monitor and was an agent for the MDC-A party

I managed to get a look at two of those responsible for the attack on my house and reported the matter to the police.

A third culprit had been trying to intimidate me throughout the campaign period.

The day before my home was destroyed, he made a direct threat against me.

All three are known supporters of Zanu-PF.

The suspects were picked up but later released.

David stands in the ruins of his home
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Mr Chamanga says his home has been destroyed

Realising that my home had been destroyed, I felt that my life and that of my family members were in danger, so I decided to escape to Harare, where I have been since 8 August.

The party then sent me to a safe house where I got food, shelter and clothes.

My plight now is rebuilding my home, restocking my food reserves and looking after my family.

I haven’t got any help so far. The party helped me with food and clothes but I have problems in finding shelter so I am looking a donor who can assist with the reconstruction of my house and help me send my kids back to school. As I speak they are not in school.

David is living at a safe house in Harare
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Mr Chamanga has been living at a safe house in Harare since the attack

There is nothing to stop me from returning to my home.

The culprits have been criticised by some fellow Zanu-PF supporters and they don’t seem to have the will to keep threatening me anymore.

Even the head man, who is a Zanu-PF supporter, will testify that what these three did was very wrong.

If I am assured of shelter, and resources and my kids can go to school then I am willing to try to live in my home village.

Zimbabwe hasn’t changed. The political landscape, as far as threats are concerned, people as far away as Muzarabani, on the Mozambique border, have had to flee to the capital following incidents of violence.

Some fellow residents in the safe house have since returned to their homes, but my situation is complicated because I have no home to return to anymore.

If I had, I would have done it.

I went home three days ago and stayed at my daughter’s home.

David returned home to find all of the goods he would have sold had been destroyed
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All of the goods he would have sold has been destroyed, he says

The state of my house pains me to see. All my property has been destroyed. My food, my fertiliser, my clothes, I used to buy and sell things and my money was destroyed in the fire.

I used to sell tea bags and bicarbonate of soda and they’ve been destroyed. The roof has come in, I don’t have anything to use at the moment.

I don’t know where to start.

Interview by John Sparks, writing by Philip Whiteside

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