Reports of political violence escalate

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Political violence has reared its ugly head in the countryside where supporters of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are allegedly being brutalised by Zanu PF militias ahead of the constitutional outreach exercise.

The resurgence of violence comes in the wake of recent calls by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for elections next year.

An MDC official told NewsDay yesterday that cases of violence and intimidation had intensified in Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.

Dubbed “Operation Kariba Draft” the violence was allegedly organised and co-ordinated by provincial and district Zanu PF officials and was targeted at known or perceived MDC supporters.

The grand plan, the official said, was to escalate the violence soon after the World Cup in South Africa and scuttle any chances of free and fair polls. Threats being made include statements such as: “If you think beating on the buttocks was bad in 2008, then wait till after World Cup. We can kill you and nothing has happened to us since we beat you in 2008 so we can do it again”. The house of Finance minister Tendai Biti’s aunt in Mashonaland East, was burnt to the ground two weeks ago and she lost everything in the inferno.

In Mudzi, the violence was allegedly perpetrated by gangs led by one George Katsande, the MDC charges. Zanu PF gangs are allegedly going around villages threatening people that if they did not surrender to Zanu PF, their homes would be destroyed and they would all be killed after the World Cup.

“Mudzi West MP Newton Kachepa is also issuing out similar threats that, if the people (MDC supporters) don’t attend the Zanu PF rallies then they will be targeted for violence far worse than the horrors of 2008,” the official said.

Last week in parliament, violence took centre stage before the House adjourned on Thursday.

Zanu PF legislators walked out of the House on Tuesday after MDC MP, Innocent Gonese introduced for debate, a motion on how the 2008 election violence was to be addressed.

On Friday, Tsvangirai’s MDC party members demonstrated in Harare demanding justice for its members that were victims of 2008 election violence. Recently, State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, reportedly told Zanu PF supporters in Mazowe that the “enemy is making dedicated efforts to penetrate the party’s strongholds, especially in the rural areas”.

Minister of Energy Elias Mudzuri told Parliament last week that, if Zanu PF did not rein in its supporters quickly, violence would grow to crisis levels.

He said the spirit of violence is being revived in the rural areas.