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Clash in Harare Suburb Signals Rising Pre-Electoral Tensions in Zimbabwe

  • Thomas Chiripasi
  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Mbare lawmaker Piniel Denga warned that there could be more trouble in his area and other MDC strongholds with a constitutional referendum and national elections potentially taking place in 2011

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday that suspected ZANU-PF militants attacked a party vehicle in a Harare suburb, smashing its windows and injuring the driver's arm in an incident that signaled rising tensions in the country ahead of possible 2011 elections.

MDC politician Piniel Denga, member of Parliament for the Mbare constituency where the attack took place, warned that there could be more trouble in his area and other MDC strongholds with a constitutional referendum and national elections in prospect.

"The police are working in cahoots with ZANU-PF," Denga said. "This is an issue that we need to deal with to make sure police do not harass people on behalf of the party in the next election." He said he was personally harrassed by ZANU-PF youths in Mbare when he went to inaugurate boreholes sunk using his constituency development funds.

The injured driver, Stanford Bote, told VOA he went to Mbare for a mobilization exercise ahead of the party congress expected in May, when his vehicle was mobbed by a group of youths wearing regalia of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Bote said the youths told him and his fellow MDC members that their party was banned in Mbare though the suburb is a stronghold of the former opposition party. They then started throwing stones, smashing the vehicle’s windows and injuring his left arm.

He said when he reported the case at the Mbare Police Station, officers told him to bring the suspects to the station. VOA was unable to obtain comment from police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena. The ZANU-PF chairman for Harare province, Amos Midzi, refused to comment saying he had no knowledge of the alleged attack.

Political analyst Brilliant Mhlanga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the Mbare incident was a harbinger of the kind of violence new elections may bring.

MDC activist Crispen Mandizvidza died late last year in Mbare in disturbances during the constitutional revision outreach process in the capital.

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