Women political activists in rural Zimbabwe told Amnesty International they have been threatened with violence and forced to flee with their children for refusing to reveal their vote to supporters of Robert Mugabe's party during harmonized elections.
The women said they resisted instructions from Zanu-PF supporters to feign illiteracy, blindness or physical injury, which would have meant someone else marking the ballot on their behalf,
At least six women said they left home with their 12 young children after facing intimidation from village heads in Mukumbura district, Mashonaland Central Province soon after the 31 July poll.
"It appears the ZANU-PF supporters wanted to ensure that these women did not vote for the other parties and tried to compromise the secrecy of the ballot," said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.
"The Zimbabwean police must guarantee the safety of political activists in rural areas following these reports of politically motivated displacement. The authorities have a duty to investigate any threats of violence and ensure those responsible are brought to justice."