Accessibility links

Battered Zimbabwean Opposition Regroups Following State Offensive

The Zimbabwean opposition is counting its wounded and regrouping following a series of attacks on its political and civic leadership and a general crackdown on rank and file supporters nationally by the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Sources in Harare said the government has flooded the streets with armed police and plainclothes officers of the feared Central Intelligence Organization, and that the atmosphere remained tense in the capital and in other cities and towns.

Nelson Chamisa, an opposition member of parliament and spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai, remained hospitalized after being attacked Sunday at the Harare airport.

Tsvangirai was still recovering at home following beatings received last week while in police hands, as was National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku. But the opposition seemed resilient in the face of what observers described as an attempt by Mr. Mugabe and his security apparatus to crush dissent.

The current crisis began on March 11 when police barred a protest prayer meeting called by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign at a sports venue in the Harare suburb of Highfield, sparking protests in which police shot one activist dead. Authorities then arrested Tsvangirai, Madhuku and some 50 other opposition members, allegedly inflicting severe beatings on them over the two days they were held.

The situation has ironically allowed the MDC to overcome internal divisions, and while reunification of its two factions does not seem to be in the cards, rival faction leader Arthur Mutambara told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that opposition forces are now as one in seeking to oust Mr. Mugabe.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...