An Account of Recent Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Reports are coming in from all around Zimbabwe that recently there has been a sharp escalation in the level of violence against members of the opposition party - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

In the capital Harare groups of youths loyal to President Mugabe's Zanu PF party travelling in unmarked vehicles are targeting known MDC leaders and carrying out arbitrary arrests, the activists are then being held in Police custody or taken to known torture centers such as the one at Goromonzi and Hopely Farm where they are being systematically beaten. None of these individuals have been charged with any offence or brought to Court.

In one day alone the Avenues Hospital in Harare has taken in another 35 severely injured MDC leaders - the number injured with gun shot is growing, the rest have similar injuries to the ones we have already seen - severe bruising, internal bleeding, broken legs and arms and skull fractures.

Similar stories are coming in from centers all over the country. All the injured are being dealt with in private hospitals as all State hospitals are instructed not to take in MDC activists, no matter what their injuries.

This follows a meeting of the Zanu PF Youth League in Harare addressed by President Mugabe where he is reported to have said that the Youth League has a "blank cheque" to sort out the leadership of the MDC in the townships.

The danger in this situation is that the people are being driven to the point where retaliation will become inevitable. One young activist in Bulawayo reported that he was walking on the street near his home last Sunday with his son. He was approached by two policemen who after accusing him of being a MDC leader and stating that they could "come for him anytime" the one beat him with a rubber baton. When he resisted he was arrested and was held without charge for 4 days. During this time he was repeatedly beaten and a bone in his hand has been broken. He is now so angry that he is determined to get revenge.

To emphasize the deliberate and planned nature of these attacks, the Herald, the Zimbabwean government's newspaper, has now run, on two separate weekends, a an open threat by Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba writing under the nom de plume, Nathaniel Manheru, that the government was going to deal with the MDC using all the violence that is necessary to curb their activities.

In the latest article he went even further to warn that there was "seething anger in camps and barracks by the uniformed forces" and "woe betide the unfortunate back on whom the blows will land."

There should be no question in the mind of observers that the violence being perpetrated by agents of the State and Zanu PF at present are either casual activities or without careful planning and direction. They bear all the trade marks of a deliberate attempt to crush all legitimate, legal and democratic resistance to the regime.

President Tsvangirai has held a meeting with the South African Ambassador during which he expressed grave concern that regional and African leaderswere standing by mute while these atrocities were being perpetrated by one of their number. He said it made a complete mockery of all that South Africa had stood for since they achieved their own transition to an open, democratic society in 1994.

This account was written by William Bango, Spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change. ABC News has no way of verifying this information.

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