MDC leader fears assassination, cancels return

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai will not return to Zimbabwe on Saturday, fearing an assassination attempt, an MDC spokesperson said.

Tsvangirai had been expected to return home on Saturday bidding to deliver a knockout blow to weakened President Robert Mugabe in a run-off election scheduled for June 27.

After leaving Zimbabwe in early April, Tsvangirai was to return to Harare to begin campaigning despite evidence of violence and intimidation against his supporters and the risk of a treason charge hanging over him.

George Sibotshiwe said the MDC had received credible information from “highly placed sources” that Tsvangirai’s life was in danger if he returned on Saturday as planned.

“In light of this information, our security advisers have decided that Mr Tsvangirai will not be returning to Zimbabwe today,” he said.

Sibotshiwe said he could not verify whether the assassination attempts were state sponsored.

He said apart from the MDC leader’s life being at risk, the entire party and every Zimbabwean feared for their lives at the hands of the brutal regime.

He said the delay in Tsvangirai’s return would allow for the MDC’s security agents to analysis the risks involved.

Sibotshiwe said Tsvangirai remains determined to go to Zimbabwe at the “soonest opportunity”, and that the MDC is in consultation with the Southern African Development Community over this issue, adding that Zanu-PF is desperate to hold on to power.

“The political stakes have never been this high and we have not seen this kind of wave of violence. Since the MDC won both parliamentary and presidential elections, Zanu-PF is desperate and will go to any lengths,” he said.

The election process has been marred by delays, violence and allegations of electoral fraud and the country’s economic woes are growing deeper, with official inflation at 165 000% and unemployment of 80%.

Despite numerous reports from human rights and civil society groups in Zimbabwe stating the contrary, Mugabe accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of fomenting post-election violence on Friday.

“The MDC and its supporters are playing a very dangerous game. They should know they cannot win that kind of war which they have carried to rural constituencies in the hope of destabilising our supporters,” he told leaders of his Zanu-PF party.

Zimbabwean doctors, unions and teachers have reported a campaign of terror conducted by pro-government militias in rural areas against supporters and activists of the MDC since the March elections.

The MDC says at least 32 of its supporters have been killed in the unrest.

These reports have been bolstered by the United Nations, whose representative says the majority of violence has been directed at MDC supporters, and rights group Amnesty International.—Sapa, AFP

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