Deadlock driving Zimbabwe into violence – MDC

HARARE, Friday – Zimbabwe's opposition has warned that violence is flaring up in volatile townships following the deadlock between the country's two major political parties over the allocation of cabinet positions.

The main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which joined President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and another faction of the MDC in a September 15 power sharing deal, said its supporters were coming under increased attacks by ruling party militias.

A man was on Thursday critically injured after he was allegedly hacked with a machete, and police fired teargas to disperse MDC and Zanu PF supporters fighting each other in Epworth, a shanty town on the outskirts of Harare.

At least 20 MDC supporters were reportedly wounded as the parties clashed over accusations that both sides were playing hard ball at the cabinet talks.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for an emergency summit to tackle the dispute after four regional leaders failed to bridge the gap between the two sides early this week.

"The behaviour of these Zanu PF thugs is a violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which recognises the basic freedoms of people such as association, assembly, speech and movement," MDC spokesman, Mr Nelson Chamisa said. "The latest violence and thuggery once again exposes Zanu PF’s sincerity deficit in this political deal."

Zanu PF militants are alleged to have set up torture bases in many parts of Harare following the collapse of the negotiations and began terrorising known opposition supporters.

The veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war have warned MDC leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of unspecified action if he continues to hold out in the dialogue.

The former fighters played a critical role in President Mugabe’s controversial June 27 re-election after they set up torture bases throughout the country to intimidate voters to vote for the veteran leader.

Mr Tsvangirai, who beat Mr Mugabe in the first round of the poll in March, was forced to pull out after more than 100 MDC supporters were murdered and thousands driven away from their homes.

An agreement in Zimbabwe would allow politicians to turn their attention to the nation’s economic meltdown, which has led to chronic shortages of food, gasoline and most basic goods; daily outages of power and water; and the collapse of health and education services.

The political environment also remains highly charged as the main parties blame each other for the devastating crisis.