Zanu militia, war vets seal off Matobo ahead of by-election

. Residents harassed, homes raided . Zanu thugs declare no-go area for MDC



In a desperate bid to reverse Zanu (PF)’ s defeat at the March 29 election and its further defeat in parliament this week, the military junta has sealed off Matobo constituency in Matabeleland South which fell vacant following the election of MDC national chairman, Lovemore Moyo, as the Speaker of Parliament.

Moyo, the popularly elected legislator for Matobo, was elected the new speaker of parliament on August 25, making him the first non-Zanu (PF) speaker since independence in 1980. This makes him the fourth most senior person in government, after the president and the two vice-presidents.

The election of Moyo left his seat in Matobo vacant and by August 26, just 24 hours after the seat became vacant, Zanu (PF) youths from Bulawayo and government secret intelligence services had been deployed in the constituency, just 50km from Bulawayo, to campaign for the party by-election. No candidates have been selected for the election and the date is not yet known. Militias had already started harassing and raiding homes belonging to MDC supporters and they declared the area no-go for MDC. Some MDC supporters speaking to The Zimbabwean from Maphisa growth point in Matobo said war veterans had set up bases by the evening of August 25 when news that Moyo had been elected the Speaker of Parliament. They said Zanu (PF) youths spent the night singing liberation songs at the growth point.

The situation in Matobo has suddenly turned tense after news that our local MP has been elected was

received and war veterans had already set up bases like what happened towards the June 27

elections, a top MDC official in Matebeleland South said.The official also said that on Monday

night all the residents of Maphisa growth point in the constituency were summoned to a meeting by war

veterans.Moyo’ s election has left the MDC and Zanu (PF) each with 99 seats in Parliament, making this by-election absolutely crucial to the delicate balance.There is so much at stake here, it is obvious that Zanu (PF) is determined to unleash its dogs of war to ensure a Zanu victory in the ensuing byelection,

said a political observer.

MAKING HISTORY… Zimbabwe’s new speaker Lovemore Moyo sits on the speaker’s chair in Zimbabwe’s 7th.Parliament in Harare on Monday. The MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday won the vote for parliament speaker, dealing a blow to Robert Mugabe in a post-election power struggle

Zanu militia,war vets seal off Matobo ahead of byelection•

Cheers and jeers as Mugabe opens parliament


MDC MPs – led by backbenchers in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led movement – heckled and jeered Robert

Mugabe on Tuesday when he presented his official Parliamentary opening address.

More than 80 MDC backbenchers kept up their noisy protests throughout his speech, chanting,

waving red cards, and singing Zanu yaora (Zanu (PF) is rotten.)The MPs said Tsvangirai was the real

winner of presidential elections held on March 29, and made it categorically clear that they only

attended the official opening ceremony to show respect to the new Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore

Moyo, the MDC national chairman.MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said: The party took part in the

official opening out of respect for the new Speaker, one of our members,

but that must not be construed as recognition of Mugabe, he said.

Mugabe’ s speech was intermittently drowned by singing from the MDC

bench. At the end of the speech, most of the MDC members walked out of

the chamber.The MPs chanted MDC slogans,some waved banners, while others

shouted that It is Tsvangirai who should address the nation as the rightful winner of the elections.

Despite the interruptions, Mugabe completed his 90 minute speech,trying hard to ignore the open revolt in

parliament. Mugabe called for dialogue between all forces in society – including Tsvangirai.

A planned meeting between the two men failed to take place last week,despite assurances by mediator South African President Thabo Mbeki that he would be coming to Harare before

the close of last week.The MDC attended the swearing-in and official opening under protest

insisting that Mugabe’ s intention to convene parliament was a repudiation of the Memorandum of

Understanding forming the framework for talks.However a SADC heads of State

summit held in South Africa two weeks ago resolved that Parliament could be convened while talks

continue.Tsvangirai has categorically stated that while the MDC retreated and acceded to the convening of

Parliament, the formation of a new Cabinet would most certainly scupper or delay further talks with the MDC.Senior Zanu (PF) sources said Mugabe was due to appoint a new Cabinet this week, or the latest early

next week, but can reserve some posts for the MDC in the event there is a deal. Given events in Parliament on Monday and Tuesday, Mugabe could review that position.Mugabe was said to be livid by the

move by Mutambara MPs to vote for an MDC Tsvangirai Speaker despite an elitist power-sharing deal that

could have seen Zanu (PF)cooperating with the small Mutambara’ s group in exchange for

the Speaker vote.The Zimbabwean heard that in the other MDC camp, Mutambara has

totally lost control of his MPs and faces fierce resistance in his own faction by

his 10 MPs who are vehemently opposed to his plan to cut deals with Zanu (PF).

Analysts say Mugabe’ s planned power-sharing deal with Mutambara was falling through.

Whatever game plan Mugabe had has been complicated and this greatly diminishes his capacity to form a

cabinet and govern, said Eldred Masunungure, professor of politics at the University of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is seriously weakened and he and Zanu (PF) will have to take the negotiations more seriously.

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