Babies and children locked up in Zimbabwe prisons

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Twenty-four babies and 40 children under the age of six are hold up in
Southerton Police cells after police raid MDC offices last friday. Spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

from our correspondent in Harare

By Sunday morning the babies were still crammed into filtyhy cells.

MDC views this as ruthless

“This is ruthlessness of the worst kind. How can you incarcerate children
Four weeks after the elections, official results have still not been released for presidential polls widely thought to have been won by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader.

Simultaneous parliamentary elections saw the ruling Zanu-PF party lose its 28-year-long majority.

The election commission is engaged in the recount of 23 constituencies after regime claims that they had been rigged by the opposition. None of the results has been overturned in the 14 so far announced.

Even if the remaining nine were to go to Zanu-PF it still would not have won a majority.

While some Zimbabweans see a glimmer of hope in this, Mugabe has remained defiant in the face of international condemnation.

Most expect the regime to announce that no candidate won a majority in the presidential election and to order a run-off next month which Mugabe will ensure that he wins.

“The only game in town is a run-off,” said George Sibotshiwe, Tsvangirai’s spokesman. “The recount was just to buy them time to smash people’s heads in, so when they go for a run-off nobody will even be thinking of voting.”

The strategy

The regime’s strategy is to ensure that by the time of the run-off, Mugabe would have a clean sweep in rural areas, where 70% of Zimbabweans live.

A police officer admitted yesterday that he had been instructed not to
interfere with war veterans as they carry out their campaign of terror.

At the same time the opposition leadership has been driven into hiding or abroad. Tsvangirai fled Zimbabwe two weeks ago after he was charged with treason for “conspiring with the British to oust Mugabe”.

“I am unable to return home for fear of my life,” he told the international
media last week. On the ground the party’s network of district officials is being decimated.

Tichanzii Gandanga, the MDC election agent for Harare province, can barely walk after he was beaten and left for dead.

Four men arrived at his offices in central Harare at about 6pm on Wednesday. “They told me I knew my crimes and so I had to confess,” said Gandanga.

“They blindfolded me, bundled me into a truck, then drove for a long
distance, beating me on the head, on the back, everywhere. They played loud music so that no one could hear my cries. I don’t know how I survived.”

As he was being beaten, Gandanga was questioned about the whereabouts of Tsvangirai. Eventually he was dumped in the bush. He managed to crawl to a main road where he was picked up and taken to the head of a nearby village.

For two days Gandanga was nursed by villagers. Eventually he got word to his relatives who moved him to a private hospital.

Opposition death toll

Ten people have been killed so far, according to the MDC, including a
five-year-old boy who was burnt to death in a hut. The first victim on April12 was Tapiwa Mubwanda, 54, the organising secretary for the MDC for Hurungwe East.

According to his widow they were on their way back to their village when
they saw a group of Zanu-PF youth militia.

While she fled into the bush with their children, her husband and his elder brother were beaten with rocks.

“They said, ‘You voted for the MDC, now we want to do this in order to teach you to vote. You wasted your vote by voting for Tsvangirai. He will never be the president of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe will remain, so we want to teach you to vote’.”

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