MDC calls for parliamentary probe into political violence

MDC calls for parliamentary probe into political violence

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party called for a parliamentary probe into political violence and for perpetrators to be brought to justice as Parliament resumed sitting on Tuesday.

Senior opposition legislator Sam Sipepa Nkomo told the House of Assembly that national healing could be achieved only if there was full disclosure on political violence, broaching a sensitive subject that has potential to wreck a power-sharing agreement between Zimbabwe’s three biggest political parties.

Nkomo, who is Member of Parliament for Lobengula constituency and is home affairs secretary for the main MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said there was need for a select committee of Parliament to investigate the violence that engulfed Zimbabwe after March 29 elections won by the opposition.

For there to be any meaningful national healing, there is need for all the crimes of political violence to be investigated and all the perpetrators brought to book, Nkomo said as he stood to debate a speech by President Robert Mugabe officially opening Parliament on August 25.

Let’s not underestimate the violence that was suffered by the people of this country, Nkomo said to a Parliament that appeared as still bitterly divided as when MDC legislators jeered and booed Mugabe as he addressed the house in August.

Touching on the power-sharing deal between Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF, the MDC and a breakaway faction of the opposition led by Arthur Mutambara, Nkomo said the pact could only succeed if power was shared equitably amongst the three parties.

For the agreement to succeed, we will have to share power equitably . . . it cannot be an inclusive government at any cost, said Nkomo.

The legislator was speaking as ex-South African President Thabo Mbeki held talks at a Harare hotel with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara to resolve an impasse over sharing of Cabinet positions in a proposed unity government that is threatening the power-sharing pact.

But the abiding differences between Zimbabwe’s politicians were on full display as ZANU PF legislators ignored Nkomo’s pleas for a probe into political violence or his calls for equitable power-sharing – taking to the floor only to sing praises to Mugabe for agreeing in the first place to share power with the MDC.

A ZANU PF legislator, Savior Kasukuwere, reminded the MDC of a call made by Mugabe in his speech to Parliament that the country should put the divisions of past elections behind in order to move forward.

It will help no one to start to open old wounds. Let’s put the past behind us and move the country ahead, said Kasukuwere, amid heckling and booing by MDC legislators.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutmabara signed a deal on September 15 to form a power-sharing government to tackle Zimbabwe’s deepening economic and political crisis.  

Under the Mbeki-brokered deal Mugabe will remain president while Tsvangirai becomes prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister. The agreement allots 15 cabinet posts to ZANU PF, 13 to the Tsvangirai-led MDC and three to Mutambara’s faction.

However it is silent about who gets which specific posts and the rival parties have since the signing of the agreement wrangled over who should control the important ministries of home affairs, finance, local government, foreign affairs.

The power-sharing pact is also silent on the potentially divisive question of how to achieve national healing while ensuring those who committed political violence and abused human rights are brought to justice.

Many of those accused of masterminding the political violence that the MDC says killed at least 200 of its members while displacing thousands of others after the March polls are senior officials of ZANU PF and top military commanders loyal to Mugabe. – ZimOnline

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