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Suspected Murder in Provincial Zimbabwe Heightens Tension in Unity Government


The two were detained by police in Banket in connection with the death by shooting of councilor Lancelot Zvirongwe, whose body was found on Friday floating in a dam at Pindi Farm near Banket

Tensions were on the rise Wednesday within Zimbabwe's unity government following the detention by police in Mashonaland West of two councilors of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in connection with the apparent murder of a ZANU-PF councilor.

The two were detained by police in Banket in connection with the death by shooting of councilor Lancelot Zvirongwe, whose body was found on Friday floating in a dam at Pindi Farm near the Mashonaland West town. His wife was said to have reported that he texted her saying he had been kidnapped.

Banket police were holding councilors Emmanuel Chinanzvavana and Funny Tembo on suspicion they kidnapped and killed the ZANU-PF councilor. But no formal charges had been filed in the case as of late Wednesday, sources said.

Sources in Banket said some MDC supporters have gone into hiding amid police investigations of the death, fearing political victimization.

Some political analysts said the death could be linked to factional divisions in the Mashonaland West branch of the former ruling ZANU-PF. The party's provincial executive was removed recently amid a police investigation into the diversion of fertilizer from a state depot into the local black market.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the party is concerned at the crackdown on members in the province.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has blasted the MDC for engaging in what it calls appeasement of its ZANU-PF partner in the fragile unity government by overlooking rights abuses in order not to destabilize power sharing.

Human Rights Watch Researcher Dewa Mavhinga commented that the strategy his group perceives on the part of the MDC is counterproductive.

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