NGOs condemn Zanu violence

youth_militiaHARARE - Civic groups in Zimbabwe have criticised political violence by militant Zanu (PF) activists who have gone on the rampage in recent weeks attacking MDC supporters and other perceived opponents of President Robert Mugabes party. (Pictured: Zanu (PF) militia accused of

In a joint statement last week the groups also called on the Southern African Development Community and its mediator in Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma, to take note of the “worrying developments in Zimbabwe and weigh them against claims that the country is ready to conduct free and fair polls in 2011.” “We as civil society groups strongly condemn the resurgence of politically motivated violence accompanying Zanu (PF)s preparations for impending elections,” the groups said in a statement.

The groups said the violence that they said was typical of Zanu (PF) campaign strategies of the past has manifested itself in the beatings; harassment and displacement of over 140 residents from Harares Mbare high-density suburb and the Epworth near the capital. The suspected Zanu (PF) militants have also seized copies of independent newspapers from vendors and set them alight while also looting foreign-owned shops in Harare, the civil groups said.

“We urge the parties in the inclusive government to stop the violence and intimidation,” the civil society groups said. The statement further called on Zimbabweans to “exercise restraint and desist from being used as instruments of violence”.

The civil groups said the situation on the ground ruled out chances of a free and fair election, calling on Zuma to organise monitoring of elections in Zimbabwe.

“We urge the African Union to come good on its promises of an assessment mission to Zimbabwe in the first quarter of the year to assess Zimbabwes readiness for elections,” they said. Zimbabwe is due to hold new elections once a new constitution is in place although Mugabe and Zanu (PF) are pushing for polls this year even without a new and democratic charter.

Zuma is understood to be drafting a roadmap that should see Zimbabwe hold free and fair elections. Under Zumas roadmap, elections will follow a referendum on a new constitution and will also set milestones such as electoral reforms, the role of security forces and how to smoothly transfer power. But analysts say escalating political violence perpetrated by hardliner elements in Zanu (PF) and the military would render Zumas roadmap meaningless.

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