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Zimbabwean Civic Group Reports Political Violence Penetrating Harare

The political violence that has plagued Zimbabwe's rural areas since the elections in March is starting to penetrate into Harare, the capital, civic activists say.

The Combined Harare Residents Association said it has received reports that militia of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe are now harassing residents of the capital and its suburbs after establishing bases close to the city.

Sources said war veterans beat up residents of Chisipite, to the east of Harare, at the Lewisham shopping center on Monday. In Epworth, southeast of Harare, attacks by ZANU-PF militia sent a dozen people to the hospital.

Militia members are said to have set up torture bases at Lewisham, the Caledonia informal settlement in the Mabvuku-Tafara constituency, and in Epworth.

Harare Combined Residents Association Chairman Mike Davies told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that communities must come together to address this threat.

Meanwhile, the ruling party and opposition cooperated establishing a committee to work with the police to curb political violence. ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change agreed to co-sign a declaration drafted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s multi-party liaison committee condemning violence.

Opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa said that the MDC has written to the electoral commission demanding that torture bases set up by ZANU-PF militia be dismantled, and that the military stop campaigning for President Mugabe against opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai in the June 27 run-off election.

But National Director Alois Chaumba of the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice, also chairman of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that it is questionable whether the ruling party is truly committed to nonviolence as its supporters are the main perpetrators of violence and intimidation.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...