Get army out of Mat – ZimRights (23-11-06)

BULWAYO - Zimbabwe's human rights groups are pressing for the withdrawal of troops from rural Matabeleland.
The main human rights watchdog, Zimrights, has petitioned Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi to urgently withdraw military units from rural Matabeleland and some townships where they

are spearheading the infamous Operation Maguta, saying their presence is heightening fears.
Zimrights’executive director Kucaca Phulu said their deployment was meant to “instil and maintain fear” in Matabeleland, where the infamous Fifth Brigade massacred an estimated 20 000 civilians in the 1980s.
Mathula Lusinga of the Movement for Democratic Change said villagers in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland, had reported this week that soldiers were firing shots into the air at night to frighten people. While the Acting Information Minister, Paul Mangwana, denied that army units were in Matabeleland, Sekeramayi confirmed in Parliament last week that units were in the province. Sekeramayi said the army had a duty to defend the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and to ensure that peace and tranquillity prevails.”
Some members of the Mutambara-led opposition Movement for Democratic Change officials have also been arrested after they petitioned the military not to oppress people and to think about their future in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. – Own correspondent

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