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Political Violence Spreads to Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South Province

ZANU-PF supporters forced residents of West Nicholson, Gwanda district, Matabeleland South, to attend political meetings, while across the country, villagers in Nyanga North, Manicaland, were fleeing to Mozambique

Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF in Gwanda, a district of Matabeleland South province, were said Friday to have gone on a rampage and driven villagers from their homes. Across the country in Nyanga North, Manicaland province, sources said political violence has led villagers to flee to nearby Mozambique.

Sources said the violence in Gwanda was worst in the small town of West Nicholson. A local businessman, Sihle Ngwenya, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Chris Gande that ZANU-PF supporters were forcing villagers to attend meetings.

Speaking from Manicaland province, Pishayi Muchauraya, spokesman for the Tsvangirai formation of the Movement for Democratic Change, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that hundreds of villagers have fled Nyamaropa amid violence by alleged ZANU-PF militants.

Muchauraya said seven MDC supporters were arrested Friday in Mutasa district.

Zimbabwean civil society organizations condemned the alleged torture of 45 International Socialist Organization activists arrested on February 19 and charged with treason for gathering to watch news videos and discuss political upheaval in the Mideast.

Charges of police brutality emerged Thursday as socialist leader Munyaradzi Gwisai, a former member of Parliament, testified in Harare magistrate’s court that he and his members were severely beaten while in police custody. The magistrate ordered the police to ensure that the accused received necessary medical attention.

Restoration of Human Rights Director Tichanzii Gandanga said Zimbabwe has breached provisions against torture in the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In Mashonaland West province, residents and villagers said they are living in fear of being beaten up or harassed by soldiers and ZANU-PF youth militia. Correspondent Arthur Chigoriwa toured the province and filed a report on the climate of fear.