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Group debunks charges of plotting to violently oust Mugabe
Brendon Tulani, ZimOnline
August 23, 2007

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on Wednesday released a dossier of evidence it said was meant to disprove claims by the police that opposition parties and civic groups were conniving to violently overthrow President Mugabe's government.

The Forum said it planned to present the 28-page dossier to South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was last March appointed by Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to mediate in Zimbabwe's political crisis.

The Forum, which is a coalition of 17 of the biggest human rights and pro-democracy groups in the country, claims the bulk of political events listed in two recent police reports as "criminal activities" were in fact genuine political or civic activities held by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and non-governmental organisations.

Forum chairman Noel Kututwa told journalists in Harare that the police reports were "internally contradictory, inherently implausible and manifestly false in many instances."

The ZRP recently issued two reports "Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: A Trial of Violence" and "Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: The Naked Truth" which were used by Mugabe to justify a crackdown against the MDC claiming the opposition party wanted to illegally topple his government.

Police compiled the reports to justify the brutal assault of main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and many of his supporters on March 11 when police broke up a prayer rally in the Harare's Highfield suburb. The assault received worldwide condemnation.

The Forum says in its dossier that the role of opposition parties in any democracy was to seek regime change but that the Zimbabwe government had sought to wrongfully criminalise this valid role of the opposition.

"In Zimbabwe, the state-controlled media has repeatedly accused opposition of regime change . . . turning the phrase to imply something inherently criminal," reads part of the Forum's report.

Kututwa said the reports by the police claiming the opposition and civic groups were colluding to overthrow the government had naively revealed the politicisation of the police and the use of state resources for party political purposes.

Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses - mostly blamed on state agents - have become routine in Zimbabwe since the emergence in 1999 of the MDC as the most potent electoral threat to Mugabe and ZANU PF's stranglehold on power. - ZimOnline

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