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Zimbabwe Governor's Anti-Political Violence Position Questioned

Newly appointed Governor Martin Dinha of Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central province urged magistrates this week to punish all perpetrators of political violence without fear or favor, but members of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which won a majority in parliament this year in violence-ridden elections, questioned his sincerity.

Dinha issued the anti-political violence call Monday during the swearing-in of a magistrate in Bindura, Feresi Chakanyuka. But his remarks drew criticism from local officials of the MDC, which took the brunt of post-election violence by militia members and war veterans.

Many observers accused the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, re-elected in June in a highly controversial uncontested election, of orchestrating the wave of violence which sprang up after Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF were dealt a stinging defeat in March elections.

Mashonaland Central MDC officials said Dinha’s remarks insulted those who lost loved ones and property in violence which reached a crescendo before the June 27 presidential run-off election. They said he knows there will be no prosecution of those responsible for such deadly violence so long as ZANU-PF retains control of the levers of executive power.

Mashonaland Central was one of the provinces worst hit by political violence.

Dinha, a former ZANU-PF mayor of Bindura and head of the pro-government Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice, called on President Mugabe in May to declare a state of emergency to safeguard lives and property amid rising violence he said the MDC was perpetrating.

Mashonaland Central Organizing Secretary Gilson Chitakunye of the MDC formation led by party founder and prime minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai told Jonga Kandemiiri that he does not expect magistrates to take Dinha's statement seriously.

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