MDC begs for help from African states as Mugabe resorts to violence

Reading time 2 min.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change appealed to African states to intervene in Zimbabwe’s escalating political crisis on Tuesday, and gave warning of the increasing risk of widespread bloodshed.

By Alec Russell, Southern Africa Correspondent

The call came amid mounting reports of attacks on MDC activists by state-sponsored militias, as the ruling Zanu-PF party appeared to be preparing for a run-off presidential race between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition’s Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tendai Biti, the MDC’s secretary-general, said there had been “massive violence” inside Zimbabwe since the March 29 poll and that militias had been rearmed in a “militarisation” of society.

“I say to my brothers and sisters across the continent: don’t wait for dead bodies in the streets of Harare,” Mr Biti told a press conference in the capital. “There is a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe.”

The MDC hopes that African leaders can put pressure on the authorities finally to release the election results.

MDC officials said that up to 1,000 people had been displaced, arrested or beaten since the elections – mainly in rural areas that previously backed Mr Mugabe but which had recorded a swing to Mr Tsvangirai.

And in an apparent return to the tactics that Zanu-PF has used successfully in previous elections, gangs of self-styled veterans of the war of independence have been intensifying their intimidation of white farmers. Farmers’ groups said 60 had been evicted since the weekend.

While only about 300 white farmers remain of the 4,200 before Mr Mugabe’s controversial 2000 land expropriations, targeting them has a powerful resonance and also potentially intimidates tens of thousands of black electors against voting for Mr Tsvangirai. Zanu-PF has accused Mr Tsvangirai of being a puppet of the whites and says that, in power, he would allow white farmers to reclaim their old land.

On Tuesday night, 10 days after the polls closed, the election commission had still not released the results. Some independent projections indicate that Mr Tsvangirai beat Mr Mugabe in the first round, but just failed to win the outright majority necessary to avoid a run-off.

However, the MDC says Mr Tsvangirai won 50.3 per cent of the vote, and suggests the election commission has delayed results both to give it time to massage the figures in Mr Mugabe’s favour and also so Zanu-PF can soften up the electorate.

State media said police had arrested seven election officials accused of cheating in Mr Tsvangirai’s favour.

The Financial Times

International  International news in general
Support Follow Afrik-News on Google News