Political tension builds up ahead of polls

Staff writer

FIVE opposition supporters were abducted and severely assaulted on Monday by supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF, an opposition party official said yesterday.


As the two parties intensify their campaign ahead of the general election next year, violence is likely to escalate.


“Following the successful MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) rally addressed by President Morgan Tsvangirai at Chendambuya on Sunday, Zanu PF has unleashed violence on the people of the area to frustrate and intimidate them ahead of the 2005 parliamentary election,” said MDC spokesperson, Paul Themba Nyathi.


“MDC supporters, Douglas Chipinduka and his wife, Joyce Katunga, Judith Chikadiwa, Barbara Munyaradzi and Marshal Muchipi, were abducted by a group of about 20 Zanu PF supporters,” he said.


“They were abducted from their homes at around 2 am on Monday and taken to Makombe Business Centre where they were severely assaulted,” said Nyathi.


Chendambuya Growth Point is in Makoni North constituency, northeast of Harare.


Nyathi said the case was reported at the local police station but no arrests had been made by yesterday although the party identified Moses Sithole and one Khumalo, who is believed to be a Zanu PF youth chairman in the province, as the ring leaders.


Tsvangirai, in a statement this week, said the people of Chendambuya turned up for the rally in large numbers despite Zanu PF intimidation.


“The people resisted the threats from Zanu PF youths and war veterans and assembled at the business centre for the two-hour meeting,” he said.

Police yesterday confirmed the incident and said they had arrested one person in connection with the assault.


“We have arrested one person involved in that case and police are still looking for two more people,” police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, said yesterday.


The abduction and assault come against a backdrop of increased political tension between the two rival parties. Most violence has been directed at supporters of Tsvangirai’s MDC, which has so far resulted in three deaths since February.


On Wednesday MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda addressed a rally in Lupane where he introduced the party’s candidate for the by-election scheduled for next weekend, Njabuliso Mguni.