“I am very concerned about the spate of selective arrests, violence and a climate of intolerance that is threatening to throw us back to where we were before the MDC stabilised the country through our entry into government,” she said. “May I take this opportunity, unreservedly, to plead for sanity, tolerance and unity among Zimbabweans. There must never be an occasion for a brother to attack another brother; a sister to maul another sister and a mother to turn on her own child or a father to harm his family for political crumbs. We are a God – fearing nation.
“There must be some dark forces lurking in the woods, clamouring for a return to a failed state status – a situation where there is no accountability and decency within the usually law-abiding communities of our beloved country. They must be flushed out as a matter of urgency. The people have had enough of violence and intimidation and want to leave in peace.”
Hon. Makone’s efforts come as the MDC is receiving an increase in the number of abductions, arrests and violence against its officials and members. “Zimbabwe and the international community are worried about the sudden surge in violence, arrests and abductions. We need to unmask the hand behind the scourge. What is more worrying is that it is escalating at a time when the people thought the past was now behind them as they eagerly awaited a comprehensive, patriotic process of national healing and reconciliation,” she said.
“As a result I am waiting for Minister Kembo Mohadi who is attending a funeral and the ministry’s permanent secretary, Melusi Matshaya so that we will call for an urgent crisis meeting with senior police chiefs and see how we can deal with the issues of violence and intolerance that is threatening to tear our society apart, once more.”
The Southern Africa Coalition for the Survivors of Torture, an advocacy group monitoring violence in Zimbabwe, says in a new report published at the weekend that tensions rose markedly in January. Together with the MDC, the group has noted numerous mob attacks, threats, assaults, questionable arrests by police and gun shootings.
Public meetings on the constitution were plagued by violence last year.Human rights groups say Mugabe militants backed by loyalist police and soldiers are still in place in bases, lying low in wait for a rushed election. Violence monitors and concerned citizens says villagers were having their names and identities recorded by Zanu PF thugs as that party prepares for what it calls an anti-sanctions petition .
Hon. Makone’s concerns came at a time when several MDC youths were last week made to pay US$50 bail each at the Mbare Magistrate’s Courts on public violence charges. The assailants were identified but the police refused to take action saying the issue is political.
In Manicaland province, Zanu PF officials led by war veterans are pressuring villagers in Chimanimani, Makoni, Mutare and Nyanga districts to sign a petition calling for an end to restrictive measures that were imposed on Robert Mugabe and his close allies. The Zanu PF officials are forcing villagers to sign the petitions under duress and are threatening those who refuse to sign. In Chimanimani district, Janet Knight, the Zanu PF provincial member is leading a group, which is forcing villagers to sign the petition while in Nyanga, Zanu PF chairperson, Moses Gutu is leading the group and Mutare South MP, Fred Kanzama is heading the campaign in Mutare and villagers are being threatened with assault or death if they refuse.
“There is nothing like political violence, rape or murder. Rape and murder cases should be dealt with courts as such and we should let the due process follow,” she said. The MDC is receiving daily reports of violence, unlawful detention harassment of MDC officials and members from across the across the country.
“I am not saying that people should not be arrested because they are from the MDC, but I am shocked when people from one side only are arrested. “You cannot have a public fight alone. It is the duty of the police to arrest both sides engaged in brawl and not to leave the other alone,” she said.
Hon. Makone who is the Women Assembly chairperson in the MDC said the party was concerned that the police was showing a great interest in MDC preparations that they were attending their meetings although the meetings are internal issues. “I am finding it very strange on why the police and Zanu PF youths are interested in the MDC internal structures ahead of its crucial Congress in a few months time.
“When Zanu PF and Welshman Ncube’s party were making preparations for the events last December and January, respectively, the police did not take any part in their preparations. So why do they want to be involved in MDC internal issues?” she asked.
Last week, police in Marondera gate crashed into MDC Women’s Assembly internal meeting, which Hon. Makone was chairing and started taking notes. “They are operating as if we are in a police state. How can a group of men force their way into an internal meeting where innocent women are gathered to make their lives better?” she asked.
A headman in Ward 6 in Zhombe, Midlands North province, Chrispen Tazvinga on Saturday called for a meeting where he instructed all MDC supporters to surrender their party regalia as well as append their signatures on the petition to ascertain whether they are Zanu PF or MDC supporters. However, Hon. Rogers Tazviona who attended the meeting and other MDC supporters refused to sign in the book and managed to stop Zanu PF from chanting their slogans and forcing them to stop the signing of the petitions.
“However, I urge all MDC cadres who are contesting for any post in the party to conduct themselves with ultimate decorum. We are a Party of Excellence that will not engage in any physical violence,” she said.