Tuesday, February 26, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Boy's father speaks, Zanu PF denies killing

Boy's father speaks, Zanu PF denies killing
26/02/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

ZANU PF said Tuesday that it had “nothing to do with” the death of a 12-year-old boy in what the MDC-T says was an arson attack, even as Christpower Maisiri’s father laid the blame squarely at the door of President Robert Mugabe’s party.

Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the claims that militants linked to the party started the fire in a small village in Headlands, Manicaland, were “baseless, offensive and malicious”.

The MDC-T claims the real target of Saturday night’s fire was Shepherd Maisiri, described as the party’s district deputy organising secretary.

Fire gutted a hut in which five children were sleeping, and four escaped but young Christpower was burnt to death after the roof caved in.

Zanu PF, which holds the Headlands parliamentary seat through Didymus Mutasa, said it was satisfied that none of its members could have carried out the attack, saying in a statement that “if anything, we have received reports of the existence of a cordial relationship between our supporters and Maisiri’s family.”

Gumbo added: “Police are now investigating the matter and we are confident there they will get to the bottom of it as timeously and as diligently as possible because it is in the public interest that they do so.

“Zanu PF as a party does not condone violence. Our leader, President Robert Mugabe, has relentlessly called for tolerance and non-violence and we have no reason to believe that our members would so openly defy his genuine efforts to make sure we have a peaceful referendum as well as free and fair elections.”

Gumbo accused the MDC of “relying on violence as a campaign strategy”, adding: “We believe that this particular incident, like several others before it, was staged to try and put Zimbabwe in the international spotlight with a view to discrediting what is now an imminent and inevitable Zanu PF victory in the coming elections.

“It is a well known fact, as confirmed by the three independent opinion polls so far released, that the MDC-T has lost considerable support and that it has no real prospect of winning in the forthcoming elections.”
Christpower, who was a Grade 4 pupil at Ruura Primary School, had survived previous fire attacks, according to his father.

“This is the ninth time they have burnt my house down. My son who died on Saturday survived another such attack in June 2008. He already had burn marks on his back from the previous fires,” Shepherd Maisiri is quoted as saying by the NewsDay newspaper.

Maisiri said local Zanu PF activists had been threatening to “deal” with him for causing the incarceration of their leader, Lovemore Manenji, who was convicted for various counts of politically-motivated crimes, including public violence and rape.
He was sentenced in 2009 to 52 years and is presently in jail.

“Since the MDC was formed, these mountains have been my home,” Maisiri said. “They have burnt my houses nine times since 2000. I lost two children to the cold weather while I was hiding in the mountains.

“In 2003, they stabbed my younger brother to death after mistaking him for me. They have also been attempting to take away my fields.”
Christpower will be buried at Dzikiti Village, also known as Village 55, on Thursday, the MDC-T said in a statement.

A post-mortem was due to be conducted on his body at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital on Tuesday following which the body will be taken to Rusape Hospital mortuary before burial.
MDC-T officials say party leader Morgan Tsvangirai will likely attend the burial along with other senior party figures.

Police investigating the fire say they have so far found no evidence of arson, and have appealed to the public for help to uncover the truth.

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