By Nancy Samuriwo
GOVERNMENT spokesperson Nick Mangwana says Zanu-PF never unleashed violence in the 2008 elections, adding that the “long sleeve, short sleeve” incidents were just lies told repeatedly by opposition supporters until they appeared real.
After Robert Mugabe lost the first round of presidential elections to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, ruling party supporters laid seige on opposition members across the country, leading to Tsvangirai boycotting the runoff and fleeing to seek refuge in Botswana.
Tsvangirai said as many as 250 of his supporters had been killed by ruling party members and the runoff would not reflect a free election. MDC-T members reportedly had their sleeves cut off especially in rural areas where the media spotlight was thin.
Mugabe’s militia terrorized suspected MDC-T supporters by amputating their hands. This has hardly been forgotten. Victims were asked if they preferred a “long sleeve” – an amputation from the shoulder – or a “short sleeve,” a wrist amputation.
But writing on Twitter this Saturday morning, Mangwana said noone ever had their sleeves cut off by Zanu-PF supporters.
“That never happened. A lie told too many times and taken as fact,” Nick Mangwana said when confronted over the matter by one of his social media followers.
The size of the shirt sleeves refers to the cutting of hands. Reports say that if one chose a long sleeve, that meant their hands got chopped off at wrist level while those who chose short sleeves had their hands chopped off at elbow level. This torture and permanent bodily harm was a method allegedly devised by then war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda who later on fell out with Mugabe.
Mugabe subsequently won the second round with a landslide, but was forced to work with Tsvangirai in a government of national unity (GNU).
In an admission that people were hired by government to terrorise the MDC-Tsvangirai and its supporters, then Minister of Youth, Saviour Kasukuwere, told parliament during the GNU that he hired more than 13 000 youths just before the 2008 ill-fated presidential election “run-off”.
Kasukuwere said the youths were hired as “ward officers” and even admitted to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that they had been hired “irregularly”.