Political tensions continue to rise in Zimbabwe with state-run media accusing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of trying to spark an Egypt-style uprising while his dominant formation of the Movement for Democratic Change says street forces under the control of ZANU-PF are conducting a campaign of violence in and around Harare.
Mr. Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe met at Zimbabwe House on Wednesday for talks about the rising climate of violence and other issues.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mr. Tsvangirai was trying to organize a revolt on the Egyptian model.
Quoting officials of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, the state media outlets said a demonstration on Wednesday at Harare's Town House by ZANU-PF supporters was called to prevent Mr. Tsvangirai from pursuing this alleged strategy.
Ministers from Mr. Tsvangirai’s formation of the Movement for Democratic Change and ZANU-PF said the two unity government leaders discussed ongoing political violence, salary demands by minimally paid civil servants, complaints by Finance Minister Tendai Biti that the revenues from Marange diamonds are not being paid into the Treasury, and rival MDC formation head Welshman Ncube’s request that he be sworn in as deputy prime minister, replacing former party chief Arthur Mutambara.
Mr. Mugabe is said to have reiterated his position that he will not swear in Ncube.
But sources say mounting violence dominated the Mugabe-Tsvangirai talks.
Mr. Tsvangirai is said to have expressed bitterness that members of the police were not taking action to stop street violence aimed at his MDC supporters.
Co-Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that he knew nothing about the violence in Harare, in particular in the troubled Mbare suburb. MDC Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone could not be reached.
The Home Affairs Ministry nominally controls the police, although Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri has often appeared to operate without constraint.
Reports said Makone visited parts of Mbare hit by violence and promised to take it up with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri. Home Affairs nominally controls the police, though Chihuri has often appeared to operate without constraint
ZANU-PF Harare Province Youth Chairman Jim Kunaka, who led militant party youths in the demonstration at Town House on Wednesday, said he never accused Mr. Tsvangirai of trying to organize an Egyptian-style revolution.
Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said ZANU-PF is desperate and resorting to violence and propaganda in a bid to intimidate its political opposition.
Political analyst Hopewell Gumbo said meetings of unity government principals like the one held by the president and prime minister are a waste of time as Zimbabwe is in election mode given Mr. Mugabe's recent calls for new polls by June.
As noted, state radio and television is accusing Mr. Tsvangirai of seeking to activate an Egyptian-style uprising in Zimbabwe despite being a unity government principal.
State media said Mr. Tsvangirai’s recent comments at the global economic forum in Switzerland to the effect that Zimbabwe could go the way of Egypt and Tunisia showed his intentions. The MDC rejected the allegations Thursday.
Media Monitoring project of Zimbabwe research officer Eddison Madondo told reporter Patience Rusere that state media reports are machinations to smear Mr. Tsvangirai.
Harare City Council resumed operations on Thursday following its closure the previous day amid fears of attacks by suspected ZANU-PF militants said to be targeting MDC supporters in the capital. But Ward 13 Council Peter Moyo said some council workers did not turn up today due to continued jitters about political violence.
Elsewhere, seven Tsvangirai MDC activists arrested Monday on charges of assault in the Mbare violence were released by police Thursday without posting bail.
Lawyer Jeremiah Bamu said he filed a complaint charging the arrests were illegal.
For perspective on the sharp rise of apparently politically motivated violence, reporter Sandra Nyaira turned to political analyst John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe and Affirmative Action Group President Supa Mandiwanzira, whose indigenization drive is blamed by for poisoning the climate as ZANU-PF activists seize white owned properties.
Mandiwanzira accused the Tsvangirai MDC formation of fabricating accounts of political violence in the aim of blocking the early elections sought by Mr. Mugabe.
Makumbe said the MDC is not afraid of elections, maintaining that ZANU-PF is the major culprit in the violence that has roiled the capital in the past two weeks.