Mugabe turns 'assassin's plot' against MDC

Opponents of Robert Mugabe say the president is preparing a new, bloody, crackdown after the Zimbabwe government blamed the Movement for Democratic Change for a failed “assassination attempt” against the head of the air force, Perence Shiri, and accused it of “preparing for war”.

The Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi, told state media the attack on Shiri, who was shot in the arm at the weekend, was part of a wider plot to bring down Mugabe. “The attack ... appears to be a build-up of terror attacks targeting high-profile persons, government officials, government establishments and public transportation systems,” Mohadi said.

The MDC denied responsibility for shooting Shiri, who reportedly has a number of enemies stemming from his time as head of the military unit responsible for the massacres of more than 20 000 people in Matabeleland in the 1980s.

The opposition says the accusations against it are the latest pretext to justify a crackdown that will be aimed at forcing the MDC into legitimising Mugabe’s rule by accepting a junior role in a coalition government.

The MDC accuses the regime of recently abducting 17 activists and torturing some of them to obtain false confessions claiming they have been raising an armed group.

On Monday the Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said there was “compelling evidence” that Botswana—where the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has spent time of late—was training MDC “bandits” to overthrow Mugabe; the country had backed the Zimbabwe opposition in the military training of youths for “destabilisation ...
with a view to effecting illegal regime change”.

Reports in the state-run Herald newspaper claimed the opposition had recruited former military personnel for a plot to “instigate instability that would give the west a pretext to get the United Nations security council leeway to authorise a military invasion of Zimbabwe”.

Botswana’s President, Seretse Ian Khama, has been highly critical of Mugabe, his administration saying it was prepared to host an MDC government in exile, though it does rule out armed resistance.

Chinamasa said: “It has become evident that MDC is negotiating in bad faith and has engaged in dialogue as a ploy to string us along. They lack sincerity. We now have evidence that while they were talking peace they have been preparing for war and insurgency.”

The MDC secretary general, Tendai Biti, said: “We have no doubt they are going to declare a state of emergency.” He said MDC activists had been forced to make false admissions of a plot to violently overthrow the government. “They are using this as an entry point to declare a state of emergency ... Zanu-PF are cornered and will unleash violence and suspend the Constitution.” -

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