The U.S. embassy in Harare has condemned the killing of an MDC official by suspected Zanu PF supporters, placing the blame squarely on police for failing to stop the attack.
Activist Cephas Magura of the MDC wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten to death last Saturday by youths loyal to President Robert Mugabe who disrupted an MDC rally that had been sanctioned by police.
In a strongly worded statement, the U.S. embassy criticized the police for refusing to "uphold the law or to protect the public by failing to stop Zanu PF supporters from violently attacking lawfully-assembled" MDC activists.
“The United States condemns Zanu PF thugs responsible for committing these attacks," the statement said "and the members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who failed to fulfill their official duty to serve and protect their fellow Zimbabweans.”
Police say they have since arrested six suspects who are yet to appear in court. Several MDC supporters were injured during the clashes and seven of them had to be hospitalized.
Two were discharged late Wednesday. “When I ran to the police officers seeking protection they locked their doors and drove off at high speed leaving us at the mercy of Zanu PF thugs,” claimed one of the activists Robert Dombo.
The embassy statement called on the police and the Zanu PF disciplinary committee to do thorough investigations and hold accountable all those involved.
Independent political commentator Briggs Bomba told VOA that Saturday’s incident was worrying.
Zimbabwe has experienced a lot of political violence in the past few years particularly during the 2008 presidential runoff campaign where hundreds of MDC supporters were killed by Zanu PF loyalists.
Repeated appeals for peace by Mr. Mugabe and his governing partners in the unity government have certainly reduced tensions, but failed to totally eradicate violence.