Mugabe on the warpath

JOHANNESBURG – A Zimbabwean human rights lawyer says President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has gone on a warpath in which the regime has stepped up its attacks on political opponents, civil rights organisations and the electorate ahead of the country’s forthcoming elections.

Zimbabwe will either this or next year hold elections for a substantive leadership that will replace the current national unity government and human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said in Johannesburg Friday that Mugabe and his party – both out of favour with the electorate due to their failed governance during the past three decades, had once again resorted to violence to try and coerce Zimbabweans into voting them back into power.

Muchadehama, who has represented a greater number of victims of Mugabe’s onslaught, said during a seminar – Zanu PF’s Violent Gamble to Pre-empt a North African Type Revolt to Zimbabwe , that Mugabe’s party has re-activated its machinery of repression, led by the security forces, to try and intimidate its opponents, pro-democratic forces and the electorate into submission.

The lawyer added that Mugabe, handed the first ever personal electoral victory by mainstream MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 29 2008 Presidential elections, extolled the violence and hopes to reap from it by decimating the opposition in the same manner the octogenarian has done since assuming power in 1980.

At one stage, Mugabe boasted of having degrees in violence and Muchadehama said the Zanu PF campaign machinery, which had taken a lull since the formation of a national unity government two years ago, was back in full force all over the country.

“The current deployment of soldiers – the boys on leave, in the country and the ongoing attacks on the opposition in some suburbs of Harare by the Zanu PF youth militia are some of the Zanu PF ways of winning the next elections,” said Muchadehama.

“Zanu PF hopes to reap from the violence in the manner it has done before. Against the spirit of the GNU, there has also been a return to hate speech on the national broadcaster against Mugabe’s political opponents, while Mugabe himself has been glorified in various jingles.”

Muchadehama said that the ongoing clampdown on members and senior officials of the MDC, civil rights leaders, the revival of frivolous charges against some Members of the MDC, some dating back five years, was also another way by Mugabe to further close the little democratic space that the country had, adding that this was meant to tilt the scales in Zanu PF’s favour ahead of the elections.  

Police, led by Zanu PF apologist – Augustine Chihuri, who is also a war veteran and member of the notorious Joint Operations Command (JOC), are currently digging up old cases against those perceived to be Mugabe’s political opponents, like the re-instatement of 2004 charges of assaulting a police officer against Glenview MP, Paul Madzore, the harassment of “Rituals” cast members, the arrest of Nyanga MP and COPAC co-chair, Douglas Mwonzora and the arrest and detention of MDC99 leader, Job Sikhala, among others.

“Lovemore Madhuku (NCA chairperson) has also been summoned to court on a 2006 matter, as police continue their clampdown on civil rights leaders,” added Muchadehama, who also represents the arrested 46 Zimbabwean political and social activists, who include former Highfields MP, Munyaradzi Gwisai.
“Zanu PF hopes to reap from the resultant fear, as its main aim is to try and cow the masses into supporting it ahead of the elections. We are likely to see more of the heavy-handed arrests on false charges akin to abductions, prolonged torture, detention without trial, torture by prolonged interrogation and false and malicious charges like treason, the denial of bail against  those arrested and the frog-marching of people to rallies as we head for the elections.”
 
ENDS/