Police working with Zanu PF to portray MDC-T violent – Biti

HARARE, – Zimbabwe Finance minister and MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti and a top Tsvangirai aide in the coalition brokered by regional leaders in 2009, said Wednesday at least 30 of his party's supporters were arrested in a police crackdown in the western Harare township of Glen View since the death Sunday of a police officer there.

He said the number of arrests “is rising.”\r\n

Biti accused police loyal to Mugabe of trying to portray the former opposition as the main perpetrators of political violence ahead of a June regional summit in South Africa slated to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis.

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He told reporters many of those arrested since Sunday, who included activists and Tsvangirai party officials in the township, were assaulted by police and denied medical care and access to lawyers.

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At the funeral of the slain officer Tuesday, senior police officials warned they would hunt down “traitors” and those who “live by the sword will die by the sword.”

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Police allege Tsvangirai’s supporters started disturbances in the township on Sunday.

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Tsvangirai’s party denied the allegations and in a statement cited witnesses saying the police inspector was killed when he was hit on the head with a chair as police intervened to stop a dispute in a township bar.

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Biti said police immediately started rounding up known members of Tsvangirai’s party after the killing.

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“We call upon the police to fully investigate this matter. The investigations must be impartial, nonpartisan and professional. This is the only way that the true perpetrators of this crime can be brought to book,” Biti said.

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JOMIC CONDEMNATION

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The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) says it condemns in the strongest terms the attack on two police officers in Glen View 3, Harare, which led to the death of one of them.

The committee, however, expressed concern over the “gratuitous apportionment of blame” for the crime by the media saying this had the effect of politicising and trivialising violence against the police.

“Jomic deplores all forms of violence and finds no justification whatsoever for an attack on uniformed police officers going about their lawful duties,” Jomic said in a statement signed by all representatives from the three political parties in the inclusive government, Oppah Muchinguri (Zanu PF), Thabitha Khumalo (MDC-T) and Frank Chamunorwa (MDC-N).

“In the spirit of peace-building and national healing, Jomic wishes to caution the various media against gratuitous apportionment of blame for this callous attack on uniformed police officers as this tends to both politicise and trivialise violence against the police.”

Jomic urged leaders of political parties to show maturity rather than inflame passions.

“In the same vein, we urge the police to be as meticulous as possible in investigating this murder to ensure all the perpetrators of violence are arrested and bear the full wrath of the law,” Jomic said.

“Jomic wishes to convey its deeply-felt condolences to the Mutedza family on the death on duty of Inspector Petros Mutedza and a speedy recovery to his colleague who survived the attack.”

Jomic said the fatal attack on the officer was coming at a time they had just established liaison committees to combat political violence.

“This is especially deplorable coming at a time when Jomic has worked hard to establish liaison committees to promote peace in Harare. Police have been involved at a very high level in these peace initiatives.”

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\r\nOver a dozen Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters who were arrested on Monday by the police remained in custody after the police on Tuesday denied their lawyers access to their clients who were picked up and detained following the death of a police officer on Sunday in the capital.\r\n

The human rights lawyers, Charles Kwaramba and Marufu Mandevere of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were denied access to their clients when they visited Harare Central Police Station, where some of their clients were detained.

The police told the lawyers that they could not entertain them as they were holding meetings. The police advised the lawyers that they were still carrying out investigations and would likely press murder charges against the detainees on Wednesday.

“We have been told to come back to the police station on Wednesday morning, that’s when the police said they would be recording statements from our clients,” said Kwaramba, the award winning human rights lawyer.

The Glenview residents were picked up by the police on Sunday evening and Monday morning as the police responded to the death of an officer who allegedly died after a confrontation as the police attempted to break up a meeting at a shopping centre in the suburb.

Meanwhile the MDC-T youth assembly secretary general, Promise Mkhwananzi, has gone into hiding fearing arrest for statements he made last month that police say incited the party’s youth to murder a cop on Sunday.

Police, who have arrested a dozen of MDC T youths, say Inspector Petros Mutedza, who was allegedly on duty to stop an illegal MDC-T meeting in Glenview, Harare, was killed by the party’s youths on Sunday.

Mkhwananzi on Tuesday night confirmed police wanted to arrest him in connection with his statements that police say incited the youths to kill the cop.

Mkhwananzi last month said MDC-T youths will not stand by while Zanu (PF) youths and police harass them on political grounds, saying they have mobilized themselves to fight back and defend themselves against aggression.

He made the comments during a memorial service for murdered Tonderai Ndira, Cain Nyeve, Better Chakururama and Godfrey Kaunzani that was held in the country’s capital, Harare.

“I am not staying at home for the meantime. Police have been to my house looking for me in connection with the killing of the cop.

“From what I understand, police say the comments I made last month must have incited the arrested residents to kill the cop on Sunday,” Mkhwananzi said on Wednesday night.

He added that he has decided to go into hiding as feels unsafe since Augustine Chihuri, the Police Commissioner, on Tuesday also said those suspected of having a hand in the killing of the cop on Sunday should be hanged.

Chihuri said: “The Zimbabwe Republic Police shall not, and I repeat, shall not sit on its laurels while innocent citizens of this country, let alone police officers are being decimated by uncouth opposition political elements in a naïve and imbecilic attempt to make our country ungovernable. Those who wish to live by the sword must be prepared to die by the sword.”

The MDC-T has confirmed the arrest of its supporters but insists that they are innocent of the charges.

“The arrest of MDC members is a clear attempt by the police and Zanu (PF) to try and portray the MDC as a violent party, which it clearly is not,” the party said in a statement. “

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MILITIA BASES

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Meanwhile, in its latest bulletin, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said observers in voting districts reported that bases have been re-established after calls by President Robert Mugabe for elections this year to end a troubled two-year coalition with the former opposition. Many of these bases were used by militants as “torture and coercion” camps during the violent and disputed 2008 elections, the group said.

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It demanded the demolition of “these structures of violence which have created a culture of fear in communities” across the country.

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Regional leaders and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party insist Zimbabwe is not ready for elections this year.

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The election network also said its resident observers in many of the nation’s 210 parliamentary constituencies noted a build up of “intolerance to diversity” and free expression. Human rights violations were continuing around the country and police still failed to show objectivity in routine investigations.

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“The tension in the air cannot be ignored,” the bulletin, covering the past two months, said.

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