Armed youth militia affiliated with Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party attacked a village in Manicaland Province on Tuesday in one of the latest major incidents in a campaign of political violence that has claimed more than 40 lives in the past seven weeks.
Sources said three truckloads of militia members accompanied by police and soldiers descended on Mavhezva village in Nyazura district, Makoni South constituency. They accused villagers of receiving food from the opposition Movement for Democratic Changed, and many residents of the village fled into nearby mountains.
Sources said gunshots were heard but could not say if anyone was hit.
Nyazura ward councilor Happymore Mavhezha, a member of the MDC, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the militia was looking for him in connection with the alleged distribution of food by the opposition party.
Sources in Buhera South, Manicaland, said war veterans and militia led by veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba, who lost a bid for the Buhera South house seat in March elections, murdered opposition supporter Chekuhle Mupango Saturday.
They said Chinotimba took Mupango’s body and drove it around the Mutiusinazita business center showing it to residents before dumping the corpse at Birchenough Bridge Hospital mortuary. A VOA reporter was unable to reach Chinotimba for his comment on the allegations as calls to his mobile phone did not go through.
Meanwhile, sources said spokesman Oliver Mandipaka of the Zimbabwe Republic Police was seen in Buhera South on Monday warning people against supporting the opposition. Mandipaka denied being in the constituency, telling a reporter that he works in the police headquarters in Harare, not in Buhera.
A source in Shamva, Mashonaland Central, said calm has returned to the mining town following the deployment of riot police. Last week Shamva resembled a battlefield with running battles between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters, leaving many homes destroyed and over 30 people seeking refuge at Shamva Police Station.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project issued a report Tuesday saying it has documented more than 4,000 cases of political violence and the abuse of human rights since the March elections. In its first report since the March 29 balloting, the human rights monitoring group said indications on the ground “point to a worsening situation”.
The organization said it had documented 4,359 cases of murder, assault, intimidation and harassment in Zimbabwe's 10 provinces. It said the highest levels of violence and displacements were reported from Manicaland. Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West also experienced high levels of violence.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project said Bulawayo metropolitan province has been relatively calm, but noted that the perpetrators of violence have set up bases for their activities in schools and municipal offices in the Matabeleland capital.
Peace project Chairman Alois Chaumba told reporter Carole Gombakomba that it is likely that political violence is under-reported, for one thing because the group’s local observers themselves have come under attack by ruling party militants