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Zimbabwe Panel Investigates Political Violence, to Engage Police Commissioner

JOMIC Co-Chairman Elton Mangoma said that while the leaders of the main political parties in Zimbabwe have advocated nonviolence and political tolerance, they must ensure their supporters get the message

Zimbabwe's Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, set up to track compliance with the Global Political Agreement for power sharing, said it has opened an investigation into serious political violence Sunday in Chitungwiza, near Harare, and will engage Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri on police inaction.

JOMIC Co-Chairperson Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga told a news conference in Harare on Wednesday that her panel will not tolerate political violence.

Mushonga, representing the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, was accompanied by co-chairmen Elton Mangoma of the MDC wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, standing in for ZANU-PF Co-Chairman Nicholas Goche.

She said JOMIC’s findings would be communicated to the police.

Mangoma said that while the leaders of the main political parties in Zimbabwe have advocated nonviolence and political tolerance, it is important for them to ensure that their supporters get the message loud and clear.

Chinamasa, whose ZANU-PF has been blamed for most of the violence around the country in recent weeks, condemned the violence, particularly that seen lately in the capital, and said perpetrators of political violence must be brought to book.

He said the police should prevent violence and arrest those who engage in it.

The three officials refused to answer questions as to who was behind the latest violence. They said the JOMIC investigation will make that clear.

But Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said JOMIC has no power to take the police to task or even to address violence on its own. He said the Southern African Development Community should speedily deploy its own delegates to the monitoring committee as promised to bolster JOMIC’s capacities.

Elsewhere, police Wednesday arrested eight officials of the International Research group Oxfam during a training session at a Harare hotel.

Sources said state security agents harassed the NGO officials on Wednesday when the workshop began, then returned to arrest them on charges of flouting immigration laws.

Their lawyer, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, said the eight officials from countries including Australia, Britain and Switzerland, were only released after Zimbabwean immigration authorities declared their papers were in order.

Sources said their arrests prevented them from proceeding with a workshop intended to develop a humanitarian relief strategy for Zimbabwe.

Also on Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused to hear a bail application by eight of 28 activists of the Tsvangirai MDC wing accused of killing policeman Petros Mutedza in May in an altercation at a bar in the Harare suburb of Glen View.

Judge Luke Malaba struck the matter off the Supreme Court roll saying the defense had not sought the High Court's permission to appeal its decision.

Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said the state and defense agreed the matter should be struck off the roll. But defender Charles Kwaramba said the lower court decision lacked clarity which was why he asked the Supreme Court to overturn it.

The eight applicants included Harare City Councilor Tungamirai Madzokere.

MDC Youth Assembly Chairman Solomon Madzore remains in remand prison but many of the other accused activists have been released on bail.

All of the MDC members have pleaded innocent, saying they had nothing to do with Mutedza’s death. The MDC has said the charges are politically motivated.