Mugabe supporters stone Tsvangirai's rally

Young supporters of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe stoned and beat backers of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday, blocking a planned rally of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

“Unfortunately we are unable to do this rally because of incredible acts of wanton violence, malicious violence that we have suffered at the hands of Zanu-PF this morning,” Tendai Biti, MDC secretary general, told a news conference.

Zanu-PF is Mugabe’s political party.

The rally, which Tsvangirai was due to address, was slated to be held in the sprawling Harare suburb of Chitungwiza, 30km south-east of the capital.

Biti said seven MDC activists were admitted to hospital, while five party vehicles were damaged.

“There are literally hundreds of people that have been beaten up, that have been stoned by Zanu-PF supporters, They have suffered bruises, tissue injuries, various degrees of injuries”, he said.

He said police failed to protect the MDC.

“They watched us as these Zanu-PF youths destroyed our property and assaulted our members,” he said.

Police were not immediately available for comment.

A chaos scenario
Biti, who is also Zimbabwe’s finance minister in the power-sharing government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, accused Zanu-PF of using violence to provoke fear in the run-up to elections expected to be held as soon as next year.

“It is self-evident that Zanu-PF is already building up to the next election. It is quite clear that we are in a chaos scenario where they are unleashing violence,” he said.

“We will remain committed to non-violence despite provocation.”

Zimbabwe’s unity government has been riven by problems since it was formed in February 2009, after a bitterly disputed first round 2008 vote where neither candidate won an absolute majority.

That election sparked a wave of attacks where more than 200 MDC supporters were killed. Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round against Mugabe to end the violence.

The power-sharing pact was meant to introduce security sector reforms that would prevent a repeat of the violence, but Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe of failing to uphold his end of the deal.—AFP


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