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Zim opposition activists murdered
Brian Ncube, ZimOnline
June 18, 2007

Two Zimbabwe opposition activists abducted from the rural Matobo district by suspected state secret agents were found dead last Thursday, in a development certain to spread fear across the opposition supporting southern half of the country. The battered bodies of Edward Ndiweni and Albert Sibanda, who were both members of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC party, were discovered by villagers dumped at an abandoned former white-owned farm, about 15 kilometres from the deceased men's home village.

Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, confirmed the discovery of the bodies of the murdered MDC activists and said investigations into the matter were in progress. "I can confirm that the two were found dead on Thursday... police are still investigating the case and we hope we will be able to account for those responsible," said Bvudzijena. However, MDC Member of Parliament for Matobo, Lovemore Moyo, immediately blamed the abduction and subsequent murder of the two activists on agents of President Robert Mugabe's government which he said was out to crush the opposition and all dissenting voices ahead of elections next year. "It is unfortunate that the government's intolerance of dissenting voices and its disrespect of the MDC as an opposition party has led to this (murder of Ndiweni and Sibanda)," said Moyo.

Information Minister and government spokesman, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, was not immediately available for comment on the matter. Zimbabwe holds joint presidential and parliamentary elections next year which some analysts have warned the government could lose, citing an acute economic crisis and food shortages fuelling public discontent against Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party. Ndiweni, Sibanda and three other MDC activists were abducted from their homes at different times on May 25 by six armed men who were driving an unmarked red Toyota Corolla car that did not have vehicle registration numbers. They were taken to a farm not far from their homes but not the same one were the bodies of the two murdered activists were found. For three days, the opposition activists were severely assaulted and tortured by their captors who accused them of campaigning for the MDC and seeking to topple Mugabe's government.

The rest of the MDC activists were later released except for Ndiweni and Sibanda whose whereabouts remained unknown until their bodies were found dumped at a farm. Ndiweni and Sibanda, aged 39 and 42 respectively at the time of their deaths, join a growing list of activists of the opposition murdered by unknown people - but suspected to be members of the government's feared Central Intelligence Organisation - since the party's formation eight years ago. The MDC, which poses the greatest threat to Mugabe's government in next year's elections, says state security agents have abducted scores of its activists and arrested others on false charges in a bid to cripple the party ahead of the polls.

The Harare administration denies targeting opposition activists for arrest and insists anyone suspected of breaking the law is liable to arrest regardless of their political affiliation.

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