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Harare Political Violence Unacceptable - Zuma

Published on Saturday 19th February 2011

SADC facilitator South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday condemned politically motivated violence and intimidation that has flared up in Harare's high-density suburbs since Zanu PF launched its 2011 election campaign.

According to Zuma's international advisor Lindiwe Zulu, the South African president has called on the principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, to speak publicly with one voice against violence.

"President Zuma has heard of the alleged violence that has been taking place in Zimbabwe and his position is very clear and it is something not acceptable to the facilitator," she said.

"The president understands that the principals met and discussed the issue of violence. They themselves are realising that this life of violence is not good for the country."

Zulu added that: "President Zuma has always urged the principals to speak to their supporters together with one voice to stop the violence. We are already drafting the roadmap to elections and an end to violence is part of the road map."

She said elections in Zimbabwe could only take place if the environment is conducive for a free and fair poll.

"For elections to take place there has to be a conducive environment for the elections and violence is a challenge that has to be stopped," Zulu said adding that the facilitation team would be in the country next week to work on the roadmap to elections.

"The facilitation team will be in Zimbabwe sometime next week. But this has nothing to do with violence. We will be there to develop the drafting of the roadmap. As you know we have already started working on the roadmap and the political parties have given us people to work with."

Cases of violence had this week gone down in some parts of Harare but clashes in Mbare continued, with Zanu PF accusing MDC-T of throwing five petrol bombs at its district offices where eight members were sleeping.

Tsvangirai this week blamed Mugabe for the violence, which he said was being perpetrated by members of the uniformed forces.

Zanu PF has launched its campaign across the country code-named "Operation Ngatizivane" as it prepares for elections which Mugabe wants later this year.

Meanwhile, the National Security Council resolved at a meeting last Friday that the three principals of the GPA should come up with a roadmap to end the violence.

The drafting of the roadmap, which sources said was supposed to be done this week by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara, had to be postponed because the president is in Singapore for medical treatment.

"It was resolved at the meeting that the three principals should come up with a joint roadmap to persuade their supporters to stop violence. This roadmap was supposed to be drafted this week; unfortunately this is most likely not going to be possible since President Mugabe travelled to Singapore.

"Prime Minister Tsvangirai also confronted Police Commissioner (Augustine) Chihuri over the selective application of the law by the police. Commissioner Chihuri denied these allegations and it developed into a heated debate," said the source.

Efforts to get a comment from Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone were fruitless as her phone went unanswered.

Makone and Kembo Mohadi were tasked by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to come up with an objective report of the violence and intimidation that has been taking place in Harare.

Meanwhile in Nyakomba area Ward 11in Nyanga, there were clashes between Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters after Zanu PF allegedly disrupted a rally at the weekend organised by Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora. Mwonzora was arrested on Tuesday.

Hundreds of victims of the violence from Epworth and Mbare are being housed at different safe houses around Harare.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Irene Petras on Wednesday said her organisation had so far dealt with 30 separate cases and 300 people had been affected by the violence in a space of 12 days.

She attacked the police for the selective application of the law adding that ZLHR had recorded three different reports of "enforced disappearances".

Meanwhile different churches and denominations have written to Zuma asking him to intervene and help end violence.

Bishop Edward Magaya said: "We presented our concern to the South African Ambassador Professor (Mlungisi) Makalima so that he can present it to their president who is the facilitator of the Zimbabwe crisis, Jacob Zuma."

"We also wrote a letter to the police requesting to meet Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to present our concerns. We are still to get a response."

In the letter dated February 11, the practising pastors, clergy and priests also accused the police of selective application of the law.

"What is shocking and disparaging is the glaring absence of the police in dealing with these perpetrators of violence and the selective application of justice by law enforcement agents," read the letter. "There is also lack of professionalism by the police who without any extensive and empirically based research make premature findings about the recent disturbances".

They called on Zuma to ensure that monitors are deployed now in both rural and urban areas until three months after the elections.

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