DESPITE the fact that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) managed to commemorate its fifth anniversary without disturbances at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare over the weekend, th
e celebrations were restricted to the official venues. Outside the glare of media publicity, MDC supporters were reportedly beaten up by Zanu PF militia.
Reports reaching the Zimbabwe Independent show that MDC supporters travelling to and from the venue were forced to hide their party regalia. Some were allegedly abducted and tortured by Zanu PF militias deployed throughout Harare.
Two victims of Zanu PF militia, Jabusile Shumba and Brighton Makunike, told of horrendous experiences at the hands of Zanu PF militias who abducted them and Kuwadzana police officers to whom they were later handed over. Their crime was that they were seen putting on MDC bandanas.
“We were approached by 11 militias who were wearing T-shirts inscribed ‘National youth service, a commitment to serving the nation’,” Shumba said.
“They force-marched us to a secluded place which we suspect is being used as a torture base in Kuwadzana. We were beaten with an iron bar on our buttocks, toes were burnt with matches and our genitals were pulled downwards,” a visibly traumatised Shumba.
“The beating took over six hours until we were helplessly lying on the ground,” said Makunike as he struggled to sit down.
“At around 0300 hrs, the militias handed us over to the police who took us to Kuwadzana 2 Police Station. The police officers took over the beatings. They also forced us to carry metal coffins from one place to the other until six in the morning,” he said.
The two allege that they were not allowed to communicate with relatives and lawyers.
“We were later charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act,” Makunike said. “Our crime was ‘conduct likely to provoke breach of peace’. We paid $25 000 fine each in the early hours of Monday.”
Officials at MDC offices said they were compiling more complaints of violence from their supporters who were harassed by Zanu PF militias after the rallies over the weekend.
The officials said the harassment of MDC supporters was enough indication that a lot still had to be done to level the political playing field before they commit themselves to participating in next year’s election.