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NCA stings again

Gift Phiri

HARDLY two weeks after police summoned combative lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), over a report implicating the police in incidents seen as undermin

ing free parliamentary elections, the defiant group yesterday released another damning report implicating security agents in political violence.


The report, “Consolidated Election Climate Report No 2”, said there was no province that had shown a satisfactory election climate. It charges that hate speech, intimidation and threats characterised the campaign for yesterday’s election.


“According to the data received for March, 96% of constituencies reported forms of political violence and 63% of the reports alleged that torture took place,” the report said. “Most of the victims are MDC supporters (41%), with Zanu PF supporters (14%), ordinary citizens (11%), and civics (3%). The perpetrators are alleged to be Zanu PF supporters (52%), the militia (17%), the police (17%), the Central Intelligence Office (12%), and the army (8%). The MDC and war veterans were also mentioned, but their figures were negligible.”


The report comes amid threats by Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to arrest Madhuku over the first report. The NCA said it had sampled eight of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces between March 1 and 24.


“No data had been submitted from Manicaland or Masvingo by the time of writing, but it is submitted that the (existing) data nonetheless do give a good overview of the national picture in March,” the report said. “A total of 209 reports were submitted, with an average of three to a constituency.”


The incidence of political violence was worst in Harare province and seemed least in the Midlands.


“It is evident that the trend… accords with the observations of previous elections,” the report said. “Harare and the Mashonaland provinces have shown more frequent instances of election irregularities than other provinces. Harare was particularly bad … this shows that the battle is really in the urban areas where the MDC has been the stronger of the two main parties since 2000. Zanu PF is confident that it has the rural votes in the bag.”


Last week Madhuku was questioned for about four hours but not charged over the initial report.


Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said Madhuku was needed to assist in investigations into allegations in the NCA report.


The initial report suggested that police and other state security agents were involved in “the commission of pre-election crimes including assault, murder, the closure of schools (and) unlawful arrests”.


“In our view these are very serious crimes and any Zimbabwean citizen has an obligation to ensure that those crimes are thoroughly investigated. We called Mr Madhuku into my office … and we had a meeting with him,” Bvudzijena was quoted as saying last week.


The new report also charges that President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party is using food as a political tool by demanding party cards from hungry voters before the election.


The ruling party faced the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in yesterday’s parliamentary poll.


The NCA said it obtained its information from community monitors in eight of the country’s 10 provinces and that they backed the allegations of food supply manipulation.


It said while the political violence that characterised Zimbabwe’s last two polls in 2000 and 2002 had declined, hate speech, threats and intimidation were rife.


The police have previously denied charges of bias in favour of the ruling party when dealing with politically related legal matters.


The NCA is a loose coalition of churches, student and labour unions, business and rights groups that has lobbied for a new constitution to replace one it says entrenches Mugabe’s power. The NCA denies charges that it is anti-government.

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