Soldiers must stop harassing villagers – Tsvangirai

HARARE – Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai says Zanu PF should withdraw armed soldiers who have been deployed in rural areas countrywide to harass villagers ahead of the anticipated elections next year.\r\n

Addressing an International Human Rights Day gathering in Harare Friday, Tsvangirai denounced the soldiers and security agents’ presumed brutality, and said their actions were unacceptable.

”We all know that soldiers, members of the police and CIO are being deployed in the rural areas to harass our parents. The army is not there to beat up and abuse people. It is there to protect them.

When we tell them to stop  it, we are not fighting them but we are asking  them to protect people and not  to harass them. These are national security institutions which must not be abused. This must stop. When we go to elections  it is not a declaration of war. Our people want peace. This is what we agreed  to in the GPA.” said Tsvangirai.

Among  the speakers at the commemoration was  the Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara who shared the same sentiments with Tsvangirai and demanded a free environment for the elections to be held.

”The mandate of this inclusive government is to have  free and fair elections.  We must  have  political reforms because we do not want a repeat of the June 2008 elections. Lets have a peaceful environment that is condusive to holding free and faier elections.

Where is Zanu PF and President Mugabe? Where is the MDC  leadership? We should  be celebrating this day together if  we want a peaceful country,” said Mutambara.

Scores of people marched in the city today  holding placards celebrating the day and demanding justice and  the upholding of human rights.

The country has witnessed a decade of political violence as supporters of the MDC have been brutalised or killed by Zanu PF members who  have unleashed  violence each time the country held  elections since 2000. In the last elections in 2008, Tsvangirai had to pull out of the presidential run off at  against Robert Mugabe at the last minute citing brutal violence by Zanu PF supporters against  the MDC.

At least 200 MDC supporters were killed during those bloody elections. In Masvingo province, there have been reports of  rampant intimidation  and harassment of villagers by soldiers and war veterans led by Jabulani Sibanda in recent weeks.

In Mashonaland Central, villagers in Dotito and Rushinga districts have been warned that Zanu PF will  cut off the heads of people who will vote for the  MDC  in next year’s elections.

There is clearly a systematic pattern whre Zanu PF is using armed soldiers to intimidate and harass people nationwide ahead of the elections. – Daily News