Early warning system needed

zesnHARARE - A coalition of Zimbabwean election observers has said the country needs an effective violence early warning system to avoid a recurrence of bloody clashes that accompanied disputed presidential polls two years ago.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said political tension was simmering in parts of the country, particularly in rural areas which have been declared no-go areas for civic organisations and members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party. It said Mashonaland Central province was particularly volatile, with “some political parties” barred from conducting meetings while people are forbidden from reading independent newspapers in the province’s Mbire district.

“ZESN observers in Mashonaland Central have noted that while there is a sense of calm in the environment, there are underlying tensions that are simmering, hence the need to have effective violence early warning systems,” the coalition said in a report released at the weekend.

Human rights groups have reported the resurgence of political violence in rural areas controlled by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party. Zanu (PF) youth militias and so-called war veterans have reportedly set up torture camps where they harass MDC-T supporters.

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