German MPs confront Zanu PF over violence
By Chengetai Zvauya
HARARE – A group of visiting German MPs yesterday confronted President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party over its role in political violence that rights groups and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai say is on the increase.
The delegation, in the country to meet various political players and civil society organisations, used a scheduled meeting with Zanu PF officials led by chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo to demand an end to violence and rights abuses attributed to the party.
Germany ambassador to Zimbabwe Albert Conze confirmed to the Daily News that the MPs had discussed the issue of violence with Moyo, while Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo dismissed the Germans as biased.
“We told him that there is a lot of violence which is happening and it must be stopped and we are very worried about this situation. We wanted him to explain the human rights abuses being perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters,” said Conze.
The meeting took place at Zanu PF headquarters.
The delegation, led by Stefan Liebich, serves as the contact group for Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and Sadc. Information from the consultative meetings will be used to inform Berlin’s policy on Harare.
Conze said Moyo had responded by denying his party’s involvement in the violence and human rights abuses.
Instead, Moyo claimed that Zanu PF, as a liberation party was championing human rights in Zimbabwe, said Conze.
Conze said Moyo’s explanation was archaic: “We did not believe him because he was referring to the situation in the 1960’s not the present situation.”
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo accused the Germans of smearing Zanu PF.
“All these statements are coming now because of the Sadc summit in Namibia this week. They want to set the agenda that Zanu PF is a violent party,” said Gumbo.
Germany, as part of the European Union, in 2002 imposed travel and economic sanctions on Mugabe and his allies.
The EU accused the octogenarian leader of rights abuses and electoral theft.
The German eight-man delegation had met Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo prior to meeting the Zanu PF officials to understand the situation on the constitution-making process.
Karina Roth, one of the MPs, voiced concern on the surge in political violence, harassment and victimisation of Tsvangirai’s supporters and officials, particularly MPs involved in the constitution project.
Rights groups with monitors on the ground such as the Zimbabwe Peace Project have been reporting increased political violence and rights abuses which they blame on state institutions such as the police and the army, as well as Zanu PF activists.
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