Thursday, February 28, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Political violence: Mugabe demands arrests

Political violence: Mugabe demands arrests
26/02/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has expressed concern over the increase in incidents of political violence and demanded police arrest the perpetrators as tensions increases ahead of next month’s constitutional referendum and fresh polls later in the year.

“The President told the Commissioner-General of the Police (Augustine Chihuri) that police must account for all cases of politically-motivated violence regardless of the status of those involved,” Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba said Wednesday.

“The President said he does not tolerate violence as the country prepares for the referendum. He warned parties and some individuals against drawing easy conclusions to incidents of violence ahead of police investigations.”

Mugabe’s remarks come after an arson attack on the home of an MDC-T official in Headlands, near Rusape, the politician's 12-year-old son.

The MDC-T has blamed Zanu PF for the attack, claiming it was one of 120 incidents of violence against its supporters recorded so far this year.

Zanu PF denies its supporters were involved and Mugabe warned against hasty decisions as police investigations continue.

“The President said it does not always follow that whoever was responsible for violence was sent by a political party. Some people perpetrate violence without being sent by anyone,” Charamba said.

Mugabe, who has not hidden his annoyance at sharing power with the MDC-T after violent clashes rendered the 2008 vote inconclusive, has repeatedly called for peaceful campaigns ahead of this year’s elections.

But MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti claimed that a faction in Zanu PF wanted to intimidate and instil fear in the electorate.

"Zanu PF intends to harvest fear in the 2013 elections," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, deputy national police spokesman, Oliver Mandipaka said investigations into Headlands attack were continuing.

“It would be premature for us as police to say it was politically motivated or political violence in the absence of concrete evidence that we can have at our disposal after thorough investigations,” he said.

“We have since summoned our forensic scientists to attend the scene to establish the cause of the fire. (But) there is a high possibility that the bags of fertilizers and tobacco chemicals (which were in the hut) could have exploded during the burning process.”

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