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Zimbabwe Opposition Candidate In Marondera Reported Stabbed To Death

Officials of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change said an activist in rural Marondera had been stabbed to death late Friday while another member of the party who was stabbed in the same incident was paralyzed as a result.

Sources in the MDC faction of Morgan Tsvangirai said Jabulani Chiwoka, a candidate in rural district elections to be held in January, was killed by suspected members of the ruling ZANU-PF party while Tafiranyika Nyandoro was hospitalized and immobile.

The alleged incident of political violence in the approach to national elections in early 2008 was said to have occurred in Marondera, Mashonaland East, a stronghold of the ruling ZANU-PF party that has at times been a "no-go zone" for the opposition.

Tsvangirai faction Deputy Health Secretary Kerry Kay, who lives in Marondera, said Chiwoka had attended a gathering of the local ZANU-PF party last Thursday and was confronted as a political trespasser. She said his national identification number was taken down and he was warned that harm would come to him.

The following evening, Kay said, Chiwoka and Nyandoro were stabbed while drinking beer at a bar in the Svosve communal lands. Chiwoka died immediately, according to Kerry, who said Nyandoro was being treated at the hospital in Marondera.

In a recent report, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said that seven months into 2007, the year has broken previous records for reported political violence, citing the approach of local, general and presidential elections in early 2008.

No comment on the alleged stabbings could be obtained from Marondera police.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai opposition faction declined to comment, saying the matter was still being investigated.

But attorney Tafadzwa Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his group has received a report of the incident and is looking into it as a case of political violence.

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