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Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Urges SADC & AU to Act On Violence

Published on Thursday 3rd March 2011

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday expressed serious concern at the ongoing crackdown against MDC MPs, supporters and pro-democracy activists.

Scores of activists, including the co-chairman of COPAC Douglas Mwonzora and the leader of the International Socialist Organization of Zimbabwe Munyaradzi Gwisai (a former MP for the MDC in the Highfield constituency in Harare) have been arrested as a result of nationwide police raids.

'State security agents such as the police, the army and the Central Intelligence Organization have become part of a cabal that is at the center of a well-orchestrated partisan operation to instil fear in the people of Zimbabwe.

'The arrest of Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 others, Douglas Mwonzora and 23 others in Nyanga and many other innocent villagers and activists across the country is at the centre of impunity, violence and the selective application of the law which has conspired to poison the political atmosphere in the country,' Tsvangirai said in statement.

The Prime Minister said the MDC side of government does not believe that the government is under threat from its citizens to the extent of detaining people for watching a video.

'We urge SADC, the African Union and the international community at large to keep an eye on Zimbabwe. The country risks sliding over the precipice if the guarantors of the GPA do not take immediate action to come up with a binding roadmap as a precondition ahead of the next election,' he said.

Tsvangirai's plea to SADC and the AU comes as pro-democracy groups expressed fears that the former ruling ZANU PF party is now grossly interfering with the criminal justice system, to tackle its political adversaries.

With Robert Mugabe firmly in control of all the security and military services in Zimbabwe, the ZANU PF leader is being accused of overseeing a broad crackdown on pro-democracy activists, including several legislators from the MDC-T.

At least 71 political detainees are currently in custody, charged with offenses including treason, violence and organising political gatherings without police authority.

On Tuesday police in Harare also summoned National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson Lovemore Madhuku to stand trial for allegedly organising a demonstration in 2006.

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise reported Wednesday that seven of their activists arrested on Tuesday appeared in court and were granted bail with reporting conditions. Fourteen other activists arrested Tuesday afternoon were released the same day without charge.

The crackdown started in Nyanga North two weeks ago when police arrested Mwonzora plus 23 villagers aligned to his party. The cooked-up charges related to public violence, but even though all 24 were granted bail the Mugabe regime invoked controversial legislation to suspend the bail order.

Last week Friday MDC-99 faction leader Job Sikhala was arrested by heavily armed police who initially claimed they wanted to question him over statements made on his Facebook page.

The former MP for St Mary's was then accused of being behind planned street protests set for 1st March. Police later charged Sikhala with kidnapping, alleging this is linked to a diamond deal that went wrong.

On the 19th February police units broke into a meeting in Harare and arrested Gwisai and 45 activists who were watching video footage of protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

A discussion on the protests was later held before police disrupted the meeting. The regime charged them with treason last week and promptly tortured the alleged ring leaders, including Gwisai.

A number of other people currently in detention have also been tortured.

Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi on Tuesday ordered prison authorities to allow private medical practitioners to examine and treat the 45 social and human rights activists who were subjected to torture while in police custody and those whose health has been compromised as a result of disruption to the administration of their medication.

A fuming defence Lawyer, Alec Muchadehama told us that none of his clients had been allowed to be examined by their doctors by Wednesday.

'As I'm speaking to you now, I'm coming from the prison complex were my clients have all been locked up into their cells without been seen by their doctors. The excuse that I got from prison officers is that they've not yet seen the directive from the magistrate to allow them to let our clients be medically examined.

'So we have gone back to the Attorney-General's office to register our displeasure at this delaying tactic, so we hope they will transmit that directive as soon as possible to allow our clients to be examined urgently, including those that have existing medical conditions,' Muchadehama said.

Political analyst Promise Mkwananzi told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that Mugabe and ZANU PF's repression went far wider than just arrests of activists countrywide.

'We are now seeing a political party in government that lost the mandate of the people two years ago waging a systematic and brutal crackdown to try and regain lost ground. Security forces have arrested, tortured and detained peaceful citizens of this country.

'The crackdown has frightened Zimbabwe and it has exposed ZANU PF's real face, and has proved that it is out to muzzle all the voices crying out for freedom,' Mkwananzi said.

Mkwananzi claimed ZANU PF was creating thuggish provincial 'hit squads' around the country as a kind of private militia, adding they (ZANU PF) are using their militia as a strike force against Mugabe's enemies and opponents.

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