Breaking News - 6 Million Dollars Put Aside To Destroy The MDC

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) fears that a crackdown by security forces is an excuse to wipe out the party.

After last week's violent protests, the MDC said on Friday that 43 of its MPs and councillors are in hiding. It claimed the government had set up a $6m war chest to eliminate the party.

Nkululeko Sibanda, a spokesperson for party leader Nelson Chamisa, said: "The targeting of the legislators and councillors is related to the burning of our office."

About 20 men torched MDC headquarters in Harare on January 14, the first day of a three-day stay away sparked by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's sudden 150% fuel price increase.

"There is $6m put aside to destroy the MDC by trying to remove Chamisa from its leadership," said Sibanda. "This money will be used to try and prevent him from [contesting] the MDC congress." The congress is expected to be held in October.

According to party insiders, Chamisa intends to embark on a public relations offensive in Southern Africa to raise awareness about the crackdown, which Mnangagwa's administration says was a justified response to street violence and looting.

A damning report this week by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said a systematic crackdown by security forces had led to fatalities, injuries, and court appearances by hundreds of people.


"In some instances, it was noted that those aligned to the MDC were also specifically targeted, for example, MPs, councillors and other active members," the commission said in its findings.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has recorded 844 human rights violations, including 12 deaths, 78 gunshot injuries and 242 incidents of assault, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. It said there had been 46 incidents of vandalism and looting and 466 arbitrary detentions.

Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch, said: "We have received very disturbing reports of a number of cases of women allegedly raped by security forces."

The Law Society of Zimbabwe has called an urgent meeting tomorrow, saying it is concerned about the deterioration of the rule of law amid reports of abuse and beatings by soldiers. It aims to "resolve on the appropriate response by the [legal] profession".
Breaking News - 6 Million Dollars Put Aside To Destroy The MDC
The army denies that troops are behind the wave of brutality. Its public relations director, Alphios Makotore, said "bogus elements" had brought the army into disrepute.

But a soldier who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Daily Telegraph in London said that on January 15 his company had been ordered to enter Harare's poor suburbs, find opposition activists and "punish them".

The noncommissioned officer said he systematically broke legs and committed at least one rape.

"It was night. We were looking for someone in the MDC. We had an address, this lady was sleeping with a light on. I asked is her husband there, and she said she doesn't have one. I was done in a minute," he said.
The man said his unit, wearing civilian overalls and no insignia, broke "many bones" of MDC supporters by pinioning them to the open back panel of an army truck and forcing it closed on their legs.

A soldier in a different regiment told the Telegraph he had been sent on a similar punitive expedition in poor townships last week. Five MDC MPs and nine councillors are in police custody after last week's protests. The MPs - Amos Chibaya, Settlement Chikwinya, Livingstone Chimina, Lloyd Mukapiko and Rosemary Nyathi - face charges of attempting to oust the government.

The councillors are Elvis Ruzani (ward 42, Harare), Charles Ngwena (ward 4, Marondera), Simbarashe Nyahuye (ward 2, Marondera), Michael Gore (ward 2, Kadoma), Elias Sithole (ward 5, Epworth), Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi (ward 2, Mabvuku), Frank Chitembwe (ward 10, Mutasa Central), Crispen Dube (ward 9, Chikanga-Dangamvura) and Herbert Gonyora (ward 32, Mutare South).
Jealousy Mawarire, spokesperson for the National Patriotic Front, said security forces had also targeted its members.

"Our secretary-general, Shadreck Mashayamombe, had his shop in Harare vandalised and his relative was beaten in broad daylight last week Tuesday by four men. Three of those men were armed with AK47s and one with a pistol," he said.

"Our deputy national commissar, Jim Kunaka, is in Chikurubi maximum prison, while the Mashonaland Central chairman, Dickson Mafios, was arrested on Thursday and remanded out of custody for the continuation of his trial on Monday. Our treasurer, Agrippa Masiyakurima, is on the run and many others are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries."

Iphithule Maphosa, an official of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu), said his party had not been spared. "Several of our officials are either in hiding or in neighbouring countries for fear of arbitrary arrests and midnight kidnappings and assaults by the military and police," he said.

"We realised the clampdown was a long-planned operation when they stormed my residence at midnight while I was out of the country.

"It has been difficult since I returned and I'm one of the Zapu officials in hiding. We have several who have been brutally assaulted and arrested, especially in Bulawayo. I'm not at liberty to divulge their identity for fear of further retribution even on their families."

Political observers and religious groups have called for urgent dialogue among political leaders.

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