We won't be deterred: Zanu PF

HARARE – The embattled former ruling party Zanu PF has described the move by the South African government to give permission to MDC-T and civic groups to hold demonstrations at the SADC Summit set for this weekend as a non-event that will not stop the beleaguered party from presenting its position at the summit.

Speaking to State media on the his party’s position ahead of the SADC Summit to be held in South Africa, Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo expressed concern over reports that South African police have denied Zanu PF delegation access to the venue of the proceedings but allowed MDC-T activists to demonstrate.

Gumbo, who outlined the issue of travel restrictions imposed on Zanu PF by Western countries as the main source of misunderstanding and conflict, said Zanu PF will stick the election roadmap as enunciated in the GPA, adding that SADC must only facilitate a home grown constitution making process that should pave way for elections this year.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Arthur Mutambara challenged all parties to the GPA to stop dramatising issues to do with what he called national interest and urged them to instead unite and fight to come up with a home grown roadmap that will take the country forward.

Zanu PF noted that the forthcoming SADC Summit should address the serious inaccuracies presented in the Livingstone Communiqué that it said reflected only the position of MDC-T, adding that such procedural errors should not be repeated.

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ZANU PF on Wednesday tried to force South African police to bar a planned rally organised by civic groups, set to be held at the venue of the upcoming meeting on the Zimbabwe crisis.

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The mass action is being coordinated by a number of different Zim civil society organisations who are demanding that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) implement a plan for real democratic change in Zimbabwe. SADC leaders are meeting on the sidelines of a Free Trade Area summit being held this weekend, to discuss Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

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The public rally is expected to draw hundreds of people, including members of leading South African civic groups and trade unions, who are all demanding that SADC once and for all solve the Zim crisis.

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Political groups are also set to join the demonstration. Members of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) are reportedly planning to mobilise over 2,000 supporters to demonstrate against what they say is the marginalisation of the Matabeleland region. At the same time Nqabutho Dube, spokesperson of the South Africa chapter of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, has also said his party’s youth wing would meet to decide whether to join the planned mass protests.

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The plans for demonstrations have been received with anger by ZANU PF, which has described it as “scandalous and offensive to natural justice.” The party’s chief spin doctor, Jonathan Moyo said the planned protests “will be seen as hostile to Zimbabwe if not rectified.” Moyo said that ZANU PF had been barred from holding their own demonstrations, calling it “scandalous,” that the civic groups have been given the green light to proceed with their rally.

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His comments have in turn angered observers and human rights campaigners, because it is ZANU PF and the party-loyal security services that repeatedly block demonstrations by the MDC and human rights groups in Zimbabwe. Reliable sources understands that the claims that ZANU PF is not allowed to hold their own demonstration in South Africa are false.

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According to John Vincent Chikwari from the Zimbabwe Revolutionary Youth Movement, which is part of the civic rally on Saturday, ZANU PF will be allowed to have its own demonstration. Chikwari told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the party tried to force local South African police to bar the civic rally, accusing the MDC-T of spearheading the protests.

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“We were at the police station on Wednesday morning and ZANU PF was already there, saying the rally must be barred because it was organised by the MDC,” Chikwari explained. “The ZANU PF group even went as far as to try offer bribes and also said that the MDC did not respect South Africa’s Albertina Sisulu, so they shouldn’t be allowed to have the rally on the same day as her funeral.”

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Chikwari added that ZANU PF’s application for a demonstration included bussing in its own contingent of support “to try and discredit what the civic groups are saying.” He said they do expect some clashes with the ZANU PF group at the rally, but explained that South African police have promised a strong security presence to ensure there is no violence.

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SADC officials meanwhile are set to be bombarded with proof of the ongoing abuses at the hands of ZANU PF, with the MDC-T and leading civic groups all releasing damning reports this week.

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The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on Thursday is set to release a report titled “The Military Factor in Zimbabwe’s Political & Electoral Affairs.” At the same time the Zimbabwe Revolutionary Youth Movement will release a report on Friday, calling for urgent security sector reforms in Zimbabwe.

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SW Radio Africa also understands that the MDC-T will be releasing hundreds of copies of a report titled “Footprints of Abuse” which details how ZANU PF is still leading the violence and intimidation across Zimbabwe. The document is believed to have been released, in part, at the March meeting of the SADC Troika, where ZANU PF was reprimanded for refusing to reform.

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