|November 14, 2011
Mugabe and Tsvangirai slam violence
Zimbabwe’s political leaders have met in Harare to try to bring an end to the wave of political violence that has rocked the country over recent months. The meeting was the first of its kind since the coalition government’s formation and follows a week of clashes between Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Zanu-PF supporters and the police. Addressing senior party members, Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe and Welshman Ncube called for zero tolerance to political violence. Human rights groups say incidents of violence have increased over the last two months despite previous calls for peace.
Chairperson of rights group, Crisis in Zimbabwe, Okay Machisa says: “Well I am really not optimistic because it has been a perpetual way of doing things by Zanu-PF and MDC. They have been at the forefront of calling for peace and non-violence. But the problem is the same people who call for peace and non-violence are the same people who ululate when their people cause violence. We have known political activists who cause violence on a daily basis, they should call the police to arrest these people. They should walk the talk.”
A week before, Tsvangirai had said that violence was on the increase in Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s supporters and state security agents were to blame. Talk of a possible election in 2012 has reignited violence, which had decreased after Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government more than two years ago following a disputed election in 2008. Police have in the past few weeks disrupted Tsvangirai’s rallies in the western Matabeleland region where his MDC won the majority of parliamentary seats in 2008. Suspected Zanu-PF militants last Sunday forced Tsvangirai to cancel a big rally when they attacked MDC youths in Chitungwiza town outside Harare.
Mugabe said he was sincere in calling for an end to violence and parties should not force people to attend rallies. He also said the police should protect all citizens, noting that there were complaints some officer stand by when Zanu-PF members attack Tsvangirai’s supporters.”Let us walk the talk of peace. This is our sincere plea from our hearts,” Mugabe said. “People must hold their meetings freely. Don’t stand in the way of those who are holding a meeting,” he added.