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Zimbabwe Opposition MDC Says State Brutality Against Its Members Rising

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by founding president Morgan Tsvangirai, said Tuesday, that government attacks against its officials and members, has skyrocketed from about 600 last month, to the current 800.

Some political analysts and human rights groups in Zimbabwe, say the continued state crackdown on opposition forces, is set to affect the efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki, to mediate the crisis, as requested of him by the Southern African Development Community.

Also targeted in the crackdown are groups the state has identified as allies of the MDC, such as the Zimbabwe National Students Union, the National Constitutional Assembly and the Combined Harare Residents Association. Many of these organizations have claimed that some of their members have gone underground, creating a new group of internally displaced people.

Chairman Douglas Gwatidzo of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, confirmed that the cases of human rights abuses are on the rise, and added that it has become increasingly difficult to record the cases.

Dr. Gwatidzo, however, said they will publish official figures next week.

Harare has however denied the allegations of brutality, and maintained that state security officers were responding to the spate of petrol bombs targeted at police stations and other civilian targets, by opposition activists.

The MDC has denied the accusations, and instead accused the security forces of staging the bombings to justify the clampdown on the opposition and other activists, ahead of the crucial presidential and parliamentary elections, next year.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai-led MDC faction, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that the ongoing clampdown is draining all their resources.

Reporter Blessing Zulu also spoke with Cleopas Shiri, chairman of the Gweru Urban District in the Tsvangirai MDC faction, who told him that he was abducted Friday, in the Midlands city of Gweru, and tortured with electrical gadgets, by people he suspected were members of the Central Intelligence Organization.

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