Tsvangirai sees no systematic violence in Zimbabwe

"There is no evidence that there is a general campaign of intimidation and violence in the country," he told Al Jazeera television in an interview which will be broadcast Friday.

A new unity government was formed by President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai in February but their power-sharing deal has not been fully implemented.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has long accused Mugabe’s ZANU-PF of carrying out violence to further its political aims, charges it denies. Arrests of MDC activists have strained the new government.

Western donors have said aid will only flow when a democracy is created and economic reforms are implemented.

Tsvangirai’s comments may point to an easing of political tensions in the new administration.

Meanwhile in another report members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) reportedly assaulted Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists who were on their way back from a memorial service of eight slain colleagues murdered during the presidential run-off in June last year.

Reports are that gun shots were fired in the air while the assault took place.

This incident, in which an unspecified number of people were injured, reportedly occurred three weeks ago at the homestead of the agency’s deputy director for special projects Alias Kanengoni, in Mazowe.

In 1990, Kanengoni — alongside another CIO operative were sentenced to seven years imprisonment after they shot Patrick Kombayi, Gweru’s first black mayor who had defected from ZANU-PF to stand against the late vice president Simon Muzenda under the then newly formed Zimbabwe Unity Movement led by Edgar Tekere.

However, the pair did not serve the sentence after President Robert Mugabe pardoned them.
Two legislators, one from ZANU-PF and the other from MDC-T confirmed the incident, but gave conflicting accounts of what transpired.

MDC-T Mazowe Central MP Shepherd Mushonga, a practicing lawyer with a Harare law firm Mushonga & Associates as well as ZANU-PF Mazowe North legislator Cairo Mhandu, a retired army major and war veteran, said the confrontation has since been reported to the police.

While Mushonga, who identified the person who discharged the firearm as Chamunorwa Shuto, blamed the State agents for causing the skirmishes, Mhandu said Kanengoni’s guards were provoked.

Prior to the confrontation, Mushonga, one of the organisers of the memorial service for Alex Chiriseri, Tapiwa Meda, Funyisai Dofo, Joseph Ma-dzuramhende and others, said they had been subjected to immense pressure by the police to abandon the event.

“We told them that this was a cultural thing, a church thing for those who were murdered. There was so much violence in that village. Even South African generals who were sent by the then President Thabo Mbeki to investigate violence in Zimbabwe visited the area. They saw people whose genitals were crushed,” Mushonga alleged.

Mbeki and current South African President Jacob Zuma have declined to make public a report compiled by the generals on last year’s election related violence in which the local army was implicated by the United Nations country team.

Mushonga said after the memorial service, State agents at Kanengoni’s homestead attacked the MDC activists saying they should not wear party regalia in the area.

He said the victims suffered broken arms and fractured ribs resulting in them being hospitalised at a local referral hospital in Harare.

But Mhandu accused the MDC activists for the incident alleging that they travelled about 20km from Chaona to Kanengoni’s homestead in an attempt to retaliate for the violence that took place ahead of the presidential run-off.

The ZANU-PF MP said the MDC-T activists were on a so-called retribution exercise saying their party was now in power.

“I was informed (about the incident) and I telephoned the police to control the situation and they came on time. This was a report given to me. The reason was provocation. They wanted to attack Kanengoni,” said Mhandu, who is also the provincial secretary of the Mashonaland Central bra-nch of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association.

Police spokesperson superintendent Andrew Phiri said he was unaware of the incident.

However, a senior police officer speaking strictly on condition of anonymity said the investigating officer had since interviewed people at Kanengoni’s homestead and the matter will be taken to court soon.

The episode comes hard on the heels of the government’s preparations for a national healing and reconciliation exercise after a decade of political violence