Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Violence on MDC supporters escalating in Manicaland

MUTARE - Violence targeted at opposition supporters is escalating in Manicaland Province as the MDC announced it was in desperate need for tents and food to assist hundreds of displaced people in the rural areas.

Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman in Manicaland Province, said the party needed, as a matter of urgency thousands of tents, food packs and medicines to assist thousands of MDC supporters who have been displaced in the province's rural areas.

According to the MDC about 200 people have been beaten up while about 1000 have been displaced by the violence.

"The violence has now throughout the province. It's a disaster, that's how the Darfur crisis started," Chitaka said.

"We have reports of systematic violence against our supporters. Apart from beating up people they are now burning houses. We are going to have thousands of internally displaced people if the situation is not contained fast."

Chitaka spoke as ZimRights, a human rights watchdog, also raised their concern over the spreading violence which is targeted as MDC supporters.

Reverend Stephen Maengamhuru, the ZimRights' regional officer, told a post election workshop held in this eastern border city on Monday that hundreds of MDC supporters were sleeping in the open in Chipinge and Mutare South because they fear spending the night at their houses.

The MDC and human rights organisations blame the violence on security agents and members of the military who were angered by the loss of President Mugabe to the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

"We now have a situation where people sleep out in the open because they fear spending the night at their homes," Rev Maengamhuru said.

The MDC, on the other hand, said violence has now spread to Chipinge, Nyanga, Marange and the farming communities of Burma Valley, Mutasa South and Chimanimani.

The MDC chairman, Chitaka, said the most disturbing aspect was that MDC supporters were the ones being arrested by the police instead of being protected.

He said the violence would soon target MDC candidates who won the just ended elections. Chitaka, himself, won the senatorial seat for Nyanga on an MDC ticket.

About 50 huts belonging to MDC supporters had been burned at a farm about 20 km west of the city forcing 103 people to flee into the forest.

The MDC supporters fled from EnVant Farm after a war veteran identified as Muniya set their huts alight around 4 pm yesterday (Monday).

The majority of the affected people have been staying at the farm for about 30 years. The farm was then allocated to Muniya, the war veteran during the chaotic land reform programme in 2000. However, he allowed the people he found already staying there not to move out. But after learning that the majority of the people had voted for the MDC the new farmer decided to take matters into his own hands.

"There is a humanitarian disaster," said MP elect for Mutasa South, Misheck Kagurabadza. "Children and elderly people are sleeping in the open. We need blankets urgently and a place where hey can stay for now."

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