Zimbabweans fear bloody elections

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HARARE – Civic society has called on the Government of National Unity (GNU) to refrain from encouraging violence in the wake of upcoming elections.

Addressing journalists in the capital, group leader for Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP), Grace Chirenge said the nation’s fears of bloody polls are slowly being confirmed.

“Whatever the chapter of this ‘marriage,’ we call upon the partners therein to refrain from promoting all forms of violence and discrimination which fuel hate, as doing this only serves to stir up a spirit of divisions across the country,” Chirenge said.

She was speaking at the launch of the “End Hate” campaign in the capital tonight.

Chirenje said violence stifles economic growth, and government must fight to promote gains achieved by the make-shift government.

She said it has become the norm that towards elections, the country experiences an upsurge in political violence and arrests of those critical of Zanu PF and President Mugabe’s administration.

Observers have warned intimidation is going to change for the worse as elections, which President Robert Mugabe insists should be held in March next year, draws near.

This observation follows the arrest of three key staffers of the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), a registered medical clinic that provides counselling and referral services to victims of trauma.

The three are accused of spraying some MDC graffiti at an information centre in Bulawayo last month in contravention of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) described the situation regarding violence in the country as driven by “paranoia” as the unit provides medical counselling care for victims of police brutality and political violence.

“This incident is a forerunner of more shocking raids, arrests, intimidation and detentions that are to follow as the country gets ready for elections in 2013,” ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said.

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“This is not only an attack on the CSU but also on the broader human right defenders’ network because within that network, CSU has been doing sterling work in providing medical and counselling care for victims of police brutality and political violence.”

To date the nation has seen the emergence of Chipangano operating in Harare, Top Six in Chinhoyi, Jocho-mondo in Hurungwe, Jambanja in Marambapfungwe, and Alshabab in Kwekwe.

These are all youth militia groups driving political violence in their respective areas.

It remains to be seen if the polls are going to be as peaceful as GNU Principals have promised.

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