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Election Rhetoric Escalating Political Violence, Tensions in Zimbabwe

The pro-peace group said the Midlands Province was the worst affected, followed by Mashonaland East, Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central.

Persistent talk of elections in Zimbabwe this year is pushing up cases of political violence and rights violations, and efforts by a joint monitoring committee to create a peaceful environment in the country are drawing a blank, a local rights group said Thursday.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project noted in its monthly assessment report that cases of politically-motivated violence and human rights breaches surged to 1,014 in June compared to 994 the previous month.

The pro-peace civic organization whose leadership has suffered arrests and harassment by law enforcement agents said the Midlands Province was the worst affected, followed by Mashonaland East, Masvingo then Manicaland and Mashonaland Central.

The habitually tranquil south-western provinces of Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo are barely affected, the peace project said.

It also noted that President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were both responsible for the violence and intimidation.

But it accused ZANU-PF of being the main offender.

Member of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee - tasked with dealing with such issues as violence - Thabitha Khumalo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo they are doing all they can to curb violence, but added that the ultimate responsibility lies with the political leadership.

"We are really disturbed by such reports of violence. The problem is that whenever there is an incident, often the political parties will accuse each other and it becomes difficult for us to deal with the problem," Khumalo said.

Political analyst Effie Dlela Ncube said political violence is retrogressive and should stop.

A Harare High Court Judge meanwhile, dismissed a bail application Thursday for all but one of the eight Tsvangirai MDC activists jailed in connection with the murder of police inspector Petros Mutedza in Glen View almost two months ago.