MDC wants national day for slain supporters

HARARE - MDC MPs have urged the Parliament to back its calls for a national day in remembrance of its supporters who were either killed or seriously injured in the 2008 retribution campaign by Zanu PF in the run up to the bloody presidential run-off of that year.

The opposition backbenchers called for a day to mark the violence that claimed at least 200 lives, mainly MDC supporters in Mashonaland East Province, following President Robert Mugabe’s defeat in the first round of the March 29, 2008 elections.

The MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat Mugabe but failed to win the absolute majority needed to avoid a second ballot, have repeatedly accused government security forces and Zanu PF militia of intimidation and strong-arm tactics to ensure a Mugabe victory in the subsequent June 27 poll.

MDC MP for Chitungwiza North Godfrey Sithole said the knowledge of the bloodshed on Zimbabwean soil was inadequate, igniting howls of disapproval from the ruling Zanu PF.

“It is a matter of national importance, of the history of this nation which you should acknowledge as the august House, hence we are proposing that we have a national holiday in remembrance of the people who were killed towards the June 27 election in that one-man race which happened here in Zimbabwe,” Sithole said.

Acting National Assembly Speaker Melody Dziva dismissed the motion.

“There is no point of order,” she said, before allowing other debates to continue.

In 2008, Mashonaland East witnessed horrific violence when Zanu PF led by war veterans went on a retribution exercise to punish people suspected to have taken part in that year’s Bhora Musango — which saw opposition leader Tsvangirai and the MDC beating Mugabe and Zanu PF in that year’s polls.

The late revered liberation struggle icon and Zimbabwe’s first black military commander, Solomon Mujuru, was subsequently accused by Mugabe and other Zanu PF bigwigs of having engineered the president’s defeat by Tsvangirai.

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