Minister Nyoni grilled for ‘sponsoring’ political violence

Nkayi North legislator Sithembiso Nyoni

NKAYI Community Parliament members this week grilled Nkayi North legislator Sithembiso Nyoni (Zanu PF) over her role in electoral violence.

The virtual discussion group demanded to know why she allowed Zanu PF party youths to beat up opposition supporters in her constituency.

NPC speaker, Nhlanhla Moses Ncube posed tough questions to Nyoni who is also Women's Affairs Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister.

"We have heard rumours that you sponsor violence during election times. How would you prevent violence in Nkayi district which is aimed at propping you up? Why are you allowing your party youths to beat up people in your constituency? Are you aware that it can make you lose the forthcoming elections as the people of Nkayi hate violence? We need an explanation," Ncube said.

Nyoni denied sponsoring violence during elections.

Angered by the questions, she said if it was not a Community Parliament discussion; she would have used un-parliamentary language.

"The rumour that I sponsor violence during elections is not true. If we were not in Parliament, I would have used very harsh words. Mr Speaker Sir, this is not true. I have never, and I will never sponsor violence. If you see a person sponsoring violence, he or she is a coward and has no leadership qualities," Nyoni said.

She said people elected leaders because of their good deeds.

"There are gold panners from Zhombe, Silobela and Gokwe getting into ward 1 to beat up people, some use machetes. As an MP, I called district police officers from Silobela, Zhombe, Gokwe and Nkayi who sat down with village heads and agreed to stop violence,” Nyoni said.

She said police were called to end conflict and to educate people to stop being used by politicians.

“I do not like people who buy votes and use violence. Maybe some of you do not know my character; I do not have that character.  My ministry has a programme called Spotlight supported by the United Nations which deals with gender-based violence (GBV). I teach non-violence at different organisations and homes.”

She said she won a United Nations award for fighting GBV.

Ncube said Nkayi should resist political violence, adding that Nyoni should not be mum if people perpetrate violence in her constituency.

“She must denounce all those that perpetrate violence in her name,” Ncube said.

NCP member Maxwell Masina said:  "At Sebhumani, there are people who were assaulted in 2002 during elections. If people beat each other up over your party name then it’s a problem. People were killed in 2008 and 2018 by Zanu PF supporters. We cannot run away from the fact that there is violence.”

NCP deputy speaker Nkosilathi Ncube said most of the violence in Nkayi was perpetrated by people from Mashonaland and Midlands provinces, and Shona-speaking people from Gokwe and Silobela.

The discussion on political violence was prompted by the recent violence in Matobo ward 2 and Insiza ward 4 where Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members, including women and CCC proportional representation MP Jasmine Toffa, were attacked by alleged Zanu PF activists.

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