Zim political tension rises

HARARE - Dark clouds are hanging over Zimbabwe as the impasse over the hotly-contested July 30 presidential election continues — with political analysts warning yesterday that the country is entering “dangerous waters” where there will be no winners, the Daily News can report.

This comes as there are growing allegations of a brutal government crackdown on opposition leaders and supporters — a development which is increasingly receiving wide condemnation from the international community.

It also comes as People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti — one of the principals of the MDC Alliance — has claimed that a State-sponsored assassination attempt had allegedly been made on his life this week.

At the same time, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has strongly denied the allegations which it has said are being “maliciously” spread by social media trolls.

Biti’s lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo told the Daily News yesterday that a car belonging to the former Finance minister in the government of national unity had earlier this week been shot at after being trailed by unknown people travelling in an unmarked car.

“They tracked the car from his Harare home to Mazowe. His young brother was among the occupants in the car and when they tried to run away that is when they were shot at,” Mlilo said.

Human Rights Watch Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said he had received a distress call from Biti in the early hours of yesterday, and had also been told that the former Finance minister’s car had been shot at.

“I have spoken to Biti and he said his car was shot at. He is unhurt but obviously shaken. There are several cases of a clampdown on MDC Alliance leaders which have recorded.

“We know for sure that in high density suburbs such as Chitungwiza, Glen View and Kuwadzana there have been confirmed reports of beatings of people by people in military wear.

“We are also concerned at the number of people who are missing or have gone into hiding. There have been beatings of people across the country, mostly by people in uniform.

“Most of the people who have been targeted in this clampdown are MDC Alliance leaders,” Mavhinga said.

Contacted for a comment, police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she had no further comments to make following a recent briefing to diplomats by Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo.

“We have heard that soldiers have beaten up people in Chitungwiza, Kuwadzana and Dzivaresekwa areas.

“We have fully investigated this and the head of Chitungwiza hospital has informed us that there were never any people who were formally detained in hospital.

“In fact, it only happened on the day of the violence on August 1 where 14 people who were also victims of the protest came in, but for minor issues and went back.
They were never detained,” Moyo is quoted telling diplomats on Monday.

“Government is not aware of any beatings or abductions so far as has been reported. All what we are realising is that there is a lot of misinformation that is coming out from social media.

“Yes, there may be certain security or police operations which are underway as a result of the death of six people, those normal police operations do not normally end up meaning or being interpreted as some kind of atrocities being perpetrated.

“There may be some people who are being sought, who are directly responsible and have been identified for specific offences on the day in question,” he added.

But the MDC Alliance has asserted that suspected security agents are involved in retributive exercises in which they are targeting senior opposition officials and polling agents, following the insistence by the party’s presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa that he won the presidential election.

Chamisa says the results of that poll have been fiddled with by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) in favour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who polled 50,8 percent of the vote to avoid going into a runoff with the youthful MDC Alliance leader who got 44,3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has also said that it has received reports of many missing people who are said to have either gone into hiding or fled alleged acts of retribution.

“I can confirm that we have received a number of calls from our structures advising us about the people that have gone missing in the last few days. There is a possibility that some of them have gone into hiding or the suspicion that they could have been abducted.

“So far we got information from Mt Darwin and Mudzi where we are getting reports of people that are missing since last Wednesday following the army shootings that took place in Harare’s city centre. In total, we have about 14 people that we have heard have gone missing,” ZimRights executive director Okay Machisa told the Daily News yesterday.

A joint statement by accredited European embassies in Zimbabwe, and including Canada and the United States of America, yesterday urged the government to thoroughly investigate and hold accountable any perpetrators of the violence and alleged abductions.

“The Heads of Mission condemn the violence, attacks and acts of intimidation targeted at opposition leaders and supporters. These human rights violations have no place in a democratic society and contravene the fundamental tenets of international human rights standards.

“The Heads of Mission urge the government to respect the rights of the Zimbabwean people as enshrined in the Constitution.

“All allegations of incitement to violence or violent acts, as well as vandalism and destruction of property should be investigated in accordance with the rule of law and perpetrators held legally responsible,” the embassies said in their strong statement.

On July 30, millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in historic elections to choose both a new Parliament and president, following the fall from power of former leader Robert Mugabe who resigned from office last November.

The elections were the first since 1980 to be held in the country without Mugabe’s participation, whose 37-year, iron-fisted rule was dramatically ended by a military operation which triggered events that ended with his resignation. The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day this year.

Zanu PF retained its two thirds parliamentary majority in Monday’s elections, with Mnangagwa winning a tightly-contested race by 50,8 percent.

But the peaceful campaigns and a camaraderie spirit that had characterised the run-up to the elections were sullied last Wednesday by deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security agents.

Seven people subsequently died when the army, which had apparently been called in to assist in managing the situation, used live ammunition to break the ugly protests.
Mnangagwa has since moved to calm the waters by reaching out to Chamisa to join hands with him to move the country forward.

“We cannot allow the violent actions of the few to detract from the democratic expression of the many. To ... Chamisa, I want to say you have a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe’s present and in its future. Let us both call for peace and unity in our land, call for both louder than ever. That is the role of leaders. That is our joint responsibility even though discharged and fulfilled differently,” he said last Friday.

Comments (8)

This is what happens when an unpopular leader wants to stay in power at all costs. Let there be a fair election re run.

Inyika - 8 August 2018

Zanuoids murderers must know that everyone in the whole world does not respect anything they say because they have been lying ever since and no-one takes them seriously anymore. They try to defend the indefensible, their soldiers are killing people yet they turn and say its not our soldiers

Kufandada - 8 August 2018

Nothing so special in this ,we hope Chamisa will only bring his evidence be4 us all to see,including the special electoral court, I think all of us will give the verdict,the electoral court will clearly hear the case & where Chamisa & team are coming from;but to the best of my knowledge.Chamisa is just a mere power hungry manic who can get to n thing to find a way to ZIMBABWE HOUSE.We can well see that even before zimbabweans went to the polls,he had already declared that the elections would only elect to the presidency

addmore gudo - 8 August 2018

would only elect him to the presidency

addmore gudo - 8 August 2018

There should now be a cry for sanity in our beloved land. The people have suffered enough and we can't afford more years of isolation and sanctions. Elements on both sides have erred and the media have also erred in not painting a correct picture of the evil that has befallen us. The government erred in allowing the violence to escalate by the unrestrained use of force, the elements in the army responsible should be held accountable. The elements in ZRP that made a feeble attempt to control protestors have a case to answer. On the other hand the leaders of the MDC A should be answerable for their refusal to accept any result which was not favorable to their group and urging people to resist even before the election was held. The MDC A youth leader, Happymore was particularly provocative in his pronouncements hence it was no surprise that the young were gathered in the city center to protest the results with their lives, if necessary. If the protest was to be peaceful then the MDC-A leadership should have been at the forefront and not in their lofty suburban homes while the innocent lost lives in the streets of Harare. The great American leader, the Reverend Martin Luther King jr, led many peaceful marches in American cities but he always joined hands with the ordinary people and led from the front. The still living Congressman John Lewis and the Reverend Jesse Jackson can attest to this. What we need now is for true leaders to stand up and call for sanity and put an end to this madness. All the leaders from all 23 parties and civic society need to stand up and be counted.

Order - 8 August 2018

Should we say they don't have a cause before we hear their side of story . They cannot be proved wrong until their cause is heard . Those who cause beatings and death should be dealt with. Why did zec started started we results from 450 km leaving those from 1- 10 km radius. Where are the results counted ? If at Polling Stations why take too long to collet and publise the results. All these factors should be concluded before making false pronouncements. Get the facts right then pen to paper

Zvangu - 8 August 2018

This is nonsense at its best. We can not have one person who has never won elections in his party or has a history of accepting election outcomes making noise. There is no crisis in the country. Everything is going well. Crisis only exist in this fake journalist mind

Prof Jonathan Moyo - 9 August 2018

Im not sure the last comment is written by Jonathan Moyo as is stated because on the day of announcements of presidential results he tweeted that the votes are being rigged right now and he even gave the figers and those figers came almost the same as he mentioned but now with that comment I'm not sure if it is him

Innocent - 10 August 2018

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