ZANU PF violence has crippled our campaign:MDC

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition on Thursday said sustained violence by soldiers and ruling ZANU PF party militia against its structures and supporters had crippled its campaign for next month's run-off presidential election.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party – whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected in the country tomorrow after staying away for more than a month because of assassination fears – said ZANU PF militia have tracked down campaign teams, beating and torturing them.There is no way our people can campaign. They are being hunted down by ZANU PF vigilante groups so canvassing for votes is proving a very big problem for us. Violence is the major hurdle to our campaign, said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

He added: More disturbing is the crackdown on our MPs, councillors, and structures. ZANU PF has a clear strategy to decimate our structures from the very lowest levels. The run-off presidential election on June 27 is being held because Tsvanigirai defeated Mugabe in the first round election on March 29 but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote required to takeover the presidency.The MDC, Western governments and human rights groups have accused Mugabe of unleashing state security forces and ZANU PF militias to wage violence against the opposition party’s supporters and structures in an attempt to regain the upper hand in the second ballot.

The opposition party says that at least 41 of its members have been killed in political violence over the past two months while several thousands more had been displaced from their homes. But ZANU PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa denied charges the party was behind political violence and accused the MDC of raising the issue of violence only as a scapegoat for what he said was the obvious defeat Tsvangirai faces in June.
 Chinamasa said: They are preparing for defeat. I have asked them to form a joint committee with us to investigate the violence and they have not responded. Their supporters are attacking ZANU PF activists hence they should stop pretending to be the victims.

Meanwhile the MDC yesterday wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to express its lack of confidence in the body’s capacity to ensure a free and fair presidential election run-off.A lawyer for the opposition party, Selby Hwacha, said in a letter to the ZEC an election managed and conducted by the commission would not produce a result that reflects the will of Zimbabweans. Hwacha said: On the basis of the concerns expressed in this letter, MDC hereby formally notifies the ZEC that it has resolved that the ZEC is presently incapable of conducting elections in Zimbabwe that are free, fair, transparent, proper, efficient, and credible.

The MDC lawyer cited the long delays to issue results of parliamentary and presidential elections in March and the recounts ordered in some constituencies before full results were known as some of the reasons the opposition party had lost faith in the commission’s ability to conduct credible elections. ZEC deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana refused to discuss the MDC letter but said the commission would respond to the opposition party at the appropriate time. He said, our response will come at the appropriate time. We will respond to the MDC, not the media. – ZimOnline.

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