MDC: There is a ‘war’ being waged in Zim

Zimbabwe’s opposition on Sunday accused the authorities of waging a ”war” that has killed 10 people and injured 500 others since disputed parliamentary and presidential elections.

”Ten people have so far been killed in Zimbabwe since March 29. The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate,” Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told reporters in Johannesburg.

Biti said hundreds of homes had been burnt and 3 000 families been displaced in election-related violence. He also said that more than 400 MDC activists had been detained since the vote.

A Zimbabwean police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

”There is a war in Zimbabwe being waged by [President Robert] Mugabe’s regime against the people. The regime has unleashed violence on the people,” Biti said, appealing for foreign intervention in the crisis.

He alleged that the 84-year-old Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader and hero of the national war of liberation, was now suffering from ”senile dementia” and was ”completely dislocated from reality”.

The parliamentary and presidential elections, both held on the same day, have racked up tensions between the opposition and the regime in Zimbabwe, which is already gripped by a grave economic crisis.

Opposition campaigners earlier said two people had been killed in violence linked to the elections and a lawyer for the MDC said on Sunday that at least 75 activists were currently in detention.

Several international human rights groups have accused the authorities of organised violence. New York-based Human Rights Watch on Saturday said opposition supporters were being rounded up and tortured in special camps.

The MDC officially scored an historic victory in the parliamentary elections, taking the majority from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF for the first time since independence in 1980.

The MDC says that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, also won a presidential vote against Mugabe. The official results of the presidential vote have still not been released.

The international community has urged Zimbabwe to issue the results.

Electoral authorities have ordered a recount of ballots for both the parliamentary and the presidential votes in 23 out of 210 constituencies — most of them won by the MDC.

‘Shameful’

Officials said on Sunday that the recount could take longer than the three days originally forecast. The MDC has said it could take six days and has refused to recognise the result, which could hand victory back to Zanu-PF.

Biti said the recount was ”illegitimate” and ”shameful”, adding: ”The dictatorship will do everything, legally and extra-legally, to try to reverse the people’s electoral victory of March 29.”

South African dockworkers this week refused to unload a Chinese ship carrying arms destined for Zimbabwe and a South African court barred its cargo from being transported overland to the border.

The ship, believed to be carrying rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and assault rifle ammunition, was now due to unload its cargo in Angola, CNN reported on Saturday.

Meanwhile, amid mounting regional concern about instability and bloodshed, the 53-member African Union on Sunday urged Zimbabwe to release the election results immediately, and called for restraint from all parties.

African leaders have come under international pressure to take strong action to help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, a once-prosperous country whose economy is in ruins, beset with rampant inflation and mass unemployment.

”The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe’s election results, which creates an atmosphere of tension,” the AU said.

”The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency, thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension.” — AFP, Reuters

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