Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations have appealed to the Southern African Development Community to intervene as the political situation in the country continues to deteriorate in prospect of the presidential and general elections that some including President Robert Mugabe said should be held in 2011.
The political climate has grown tense after published comments attributed to Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba vowing that ZANU-PF will not stand down even if it loses in new elections.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said civil society organizations were concerned about the stance adopted by the nation’s security forces in recent days as two of the three parties in the unity government mobilize for possible elections that most observers including many NGOs say the country is not ready to hold.
NGO sources said the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition sent a letter to SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao voicing concern. Salomao said he has not received the letter but is willing to meet with NGOs.
The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai continued to report intimidation and violence against members of the former opposition party by militants of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
The Tsvangirai MDC said National Executive member Norman Mabhena has gone into hiding in response to threats on his life by alleged ZANU-PF supporters and the Central Intelligence Organization.
Sources said his antagonists were responding to his family’s decision early last month not to have the late Welshman Mabhena buried at National Heroes Acre at the invitation of the ZANU-PF politburo.
Mabhena’s family refused to release his body for burial at the national shrine in Harare saying he made it clear that he did not want to be buried alongside “thieves and crooks," in a posthumous fling at the former ruling party.
Tsvangirai MDC sources said the party’s entire executive in Masvingo province has gone into hiding following daily visits to the local office by police seeking the names and addresses of executive members. Attempts to obtain comment from the Zimbabwe Republic Police on the alleged harassment were fruitless.
Sources said Masvingo police set a deadline of Friday for compliance, threatening a raid.
In Zhombe, Midlands province, MDC member Raphael Mandoti was hospitalized after being attacked by alleged ZANU-PF militants, sources in the former opposition party said.
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Tsvangirai declared that President Mugabe does not have sole power to decide when the unity government’s mandate expires. He told journalists Tuesday that the government's longevity will be determined by a process set out in the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing. But in effect any of the three parties has the right to stop the power-sharing music two years after the government's formation in February 2009.
Mr. Mugabe recently said elections should be held when the unity government’s initial mandate of two years runs out in February, contending that the arrangement can’t be extended. But the MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara insists a new constitution must be in place before elections are held.
Tsvangirai spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that Tsvangirai meant that the decision on when to hold elections did not solely depend on President Mugabe.
Studio 7 was not able to obtain comment from ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo who was in a politburo meeting. ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo referred a VOA reporter back to the party spokesman, but hinted that the issue would be under discussion in Wednesday’s meeting of the ZANU-PF politburo.