Tongues wag as school head is assisted to vote

Cleopas Mutsaka
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MASVINGO – It’s almost two months after the discredited August 23, elections but in Gutu Central heads still turn whenever people come across Cleopas Mutsaka, a prominent former school head who allegedly feigned illiteracy and was assisted to vote.

Mutsaka who lives in the vicinity was a teacher at the Roman Catholic-run Mutero Mission for a long time before he was appointed head of Munyaradzi Primary School 10km away.

He therefore sent shockwaves in the community when he turned up at the school where he was a teacher and openly told presiding officer, Benny Marimazhira, another school head at Mutero Primary that he could not read nor write.

Marimazhira allegedly assisted the man he knew so well as an esteemed educationist and marked his ballot papers.

“It was a case of two well-educated men cheating and supporting the rigging of elections,” said a teacher who declined to be named.

There were an estimated 3,000 people assisted to vote in Gutu Central and in some polling stations up to 60% of voters feigned illiteracy because of the threats on their lives by Zanu PF. The elections were condemned by the entire international community as a sham.

The Carter Centre in its preliminary report released on August 31, 2023, said that its observers noted with concern the high number of assisted voters.
Mutsaka refuted the allegations when The Mirror contacted him for comment. However, he is the talk of Gutu District and is used as an illustration of Zanu PF’s intimidation and fear-instilling election campaign.

“That is a lie. I was not assisted to vote. I went into the polling station alone and voted. The process took me less than five minutes,” he said.

A source told The Mirror that Mutsaka was one of the Zanu PF candidates vying for a seat as Ward 19 councilor. He was beaten by Alphonsina Goronga who then went on to become councilor.

He feigned illiteracy in order to clear his name with the party that he was not going to vote opposition after losing in the Zanu PF primaries. He therefore had to get someone trusted by the party to vote for him.

Sources said Marimazhira is a staunch Zanu PF supporter.

Efforts to get a comment from Marimazhira were futile as his mobile was not reachable.

Sources said Mutsaka spent most of the voting day carrying elderly people from the villages and bringing them to the polling station to vote. Goronga was also doing the same and there are complaints from the community that one of those ferried to the station was a village head who is seriously ill.

In Zaka Central St James Chifamba High deputy Simion Chakazani is also reported to have been assisted to vote in Ward 15. – Masvingo Mirror