Political Violence Rampant as Zimbabwe remains unreformed ahead of elections

Armed police failed to intervene as five people were injured in the Sunningdale suburb of Harare last Sunday during a violent attack by the Zanu PF aligned Chipangano terror group which stopped an MDC rally that police had cleared. Some 200 supporters of Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party had turned up for the rally.

The Chipangano vigilante group comprising mainly of Zanu PF youths has become a law unto themselves, spreading a reign of terror in urban areas with impunity. Chipangano's extreme violence, and the failure by the police to act to maintain law and order, speak volumes about Zimbabwe's unpreparedness to hold non-violent elections that are free and fair.   Such acts are clear indicators for SADC and all to see that civics including Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition have a well-founded fear that going for elections in the absence of mechanisms to prevent violence would be catastrophic.

The Sunningdale attack is not an isolated case many cases of violence have been recorded in Masvingo province through the Youth Forum of Zimbabwe, for instance. The most worrying factor is the indifference of the police when violence is taking place. Police are still partisan, ZANU PF is leashing out violence. Political space is only there for ZANU PF. The facts speak for themselves.

SADC, the African Union and the United Nations should heed the call by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and other pro-democracy actors to deploy election monitors at least six months before and after the elections to minimize violence and keep the spotlight on Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, minister of defence (Zanu PF) Emmerson Mnangagwa, viewed as leading contender to replace Mugabe, last week exchanged gifts with visiting Chinese Generals who reportedly annointed him Mugabe's successor. The Chinese have vast, shadowy business and mining interests in Zimbabwe, including in Marange where Chinese and Zimbabwe soldiers teamed up to form a diamond mining company, Anjin. It is no secret that China has a good relationship with ZANU PF and part of the strength of the relationship was the capability of China to supply military intelligence and weapons to Zimbabwe. The cozy relationship between the Chinese and Zanu PF, and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in particular, warrants the raising of a red flag.

A further cause for concern is defence minister Mnangagwa's recent mission to Tehran, Iran, where he called for the expansion of defence cooperation between Zimbabwe and Iran. In Tehran Mnangagwa met with Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi.   It is worrying that Zanu PF is frantically moving to strengthen relations with China and Iran on the back of a call for elections in 2012. Perhaps Zanu PF is counting on support from them in the event that SADC fails to endorse another sham election.

By Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Media department.

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