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Mugabe rejects MDC’s violence claims

President Robert Mugabe has dismissed claims by the Zimbabwe opposition that its supporters are victims of politically motivated violence, state media reported on Saturday.

Mugabe challenged the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, to substantiate allegations of attacks on its followers, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

”From out of the blue, his party is making unsubstantiated reports of growing and sustained politically motivated violence being perpetrated against its supporters,” Mugabe was quoted as saying at the opening of his ruling party Central Committee meeting on Friday.

”We have decided to show them and their sponsors that we have nothing to hide,” he added.

On Wednesday, the MDC said it had secured a government promise to investigate charges of escalating violence against their supporters.

After a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, senior MDC figures said they had been assured they were not regarded as ”enemies” and their allegations would be taken seriously.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a major economic crisis that has seen rampant inflation, widespread unemployment and growing poverty and food and energy shortages.

But Mugabe went on to commend Parliament for unanimously passing a constitutional amendment that will harmonise presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.

He said the unity displayed reaffirmed his message that only Zimbabweans are best placed to solve their problems.

”I also thanked President Thabo Mbeki as I wish to thank him again today [Friday], for the very important role he has played in helping to improve political discourse in our country”.

The South African president is a mediator between Zimbabwe’s opposition and Mugabe’s ruling party.

”It is, therefore, unacceptable that in the light of the positive strides we have made, others like Morgan Tsvangirai, who is always the joker, find it necessary to frustrate this fledging process. When will he learn that politics is more than amateurish attitude that has become his hallmark?”

Daylight robbery

Meanwhile, Mugabe has accused Zimbabwe manufacturers of daylight robbery and ordered price inspectors to enforce controversial price controls despite a call for price adjustments from his central bank chief, reports said on Saturday.

”It does not help to improve the wages of our people if the next day those wages do not go in their pockets but to these manufacturers,” Mugabe was quoted as saying in the Herald.

Speaking before a meeting of the ruling Zanu-PF party’s central committee on Friday, Mugabe called on the state-appointed National Incomes and Pricing Commission to ”stop the daylight robbery of our people”.

The comments came just two days after central bank governor Gideon Gono called for the lifting of some price controls.

”Consumers need to realise that in an inflationary environment, it was inevitable that producers need some modicum of price adjustments to create the capacity to meet their next and successive production and purchase order schedules,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s inflation is close to 8 000%.

In late June, Mugabe ordered sweeping price slashes of at least 50% to try to tame inflation, but the move backfired as stores were quickly emptied of goods and factories said they could not produce to sell at a loss.

The incomes and pricing commission, meanwhile, announced on Saturday that it is beefing up its teams of price inspectors to enforce price controls countrywide.

”The commission is strengthening its enforcement compliance team and will not hesitate to deal with errant manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers,” commission chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa was quoted as saying in the Herald. — AFP, Sapa-dpa

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