Mugabe supporters stone Zimbabwe PM’s rally
By Reagan Mashavave (AFP)
HARARE — Young supporters of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe stoned and
beat up backers of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday, blocking a
planned rally of his Movement for Democratic Change party.
A group of youths singing anthems of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party threw rocks at
MDC supporters inside the stadium where the rally was to be held, in the
sprawling Harare suburb of Chitungwiza 30 kilometres (19 miles) southeast of
the capital, an AFP correspondent said.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the ZANU-PF supporters, but failed to stop
them from throwing stones and beating MDC activists, forcing the MDC to
cancel the rally before Tsvangirai could deliver his address.
“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
Biti said seven MDC activists had to be hospitalised and 15 more treated for
injuries, 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 had failed to protect the MDC.
“They watched us as these ZANU-PF youths destroyed our property and
assaulted our members,” he said.
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
“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.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said he had received reports of clashes
but was still gathering information and could not comment or give details.
ZANU-PF national spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he had not heard about the
“But we are not surprised by the claim that ZANU-PF is the one that caused
the violence. That is what we always know the MDC will say,” he told AFP.
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 that killed more than 200 MDC
supporters. To end the bloodshed, Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round
against Mugabe, the country’s ruler since 1980.
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.
Tsvangirai briefly quit the coalition in late 2009, but regional mediators
persuaded him to resume working with Mugabe.
The leaders are supposed to oversee the drafting of a new constitution that
will steer the country to fresh elections, but the process has been marred
by violent disruptions of community meetings by Mugabe supporters and is
running more than a year behind schedule.
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