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Legal Monitor Issue 92
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

May 09, 2011

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Violence blights election talks

As Zimbabwe power-sharing negotiators met with President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team in Cape Town, a 70-year-old was one of several villagers smarting from fresh violence in Chimanimani.

The meeting in Cape Town, which was supposed to end at the weekend, is key because negotiators there are discussing an election roadmap whose outcome should be an end to the violence that affected the 2008 elections.

But even as the Cape Town roundtable was underway, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) was reporting how suspected ZANU PF supporters burnt down houses in Nyambeya Village in Cashel Valley, which is in Chimanimani District.

The 70-year-old Mbuya Chizikani lost two huts, while her son Admire's two family huts were reduced to ashes in an early morning attack May 3, according to the ZPP, a respect local peace group with ground monitors across the country.

According to ZPP, about seven houses belonging to three families aligned to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party were set on fire during the assault.

Another family lost three huts as a result of the attack, the ZPP reported.

The victims, according to a ZPP monitor based in the community, strongly believed that Zanu PF supporters only identified as "Musere" and "Majoka" led the attacks.

This, the victims said, was a follow up attack as they were previously targeted in March this year by the same perpetrators after they had attended an MDC-T district meeting.

After the alleged attacks in March, the victims fled their homes and sought refuge in Mutare where they spent three weeks in hiding. They only returned to their homes early last month after the direct intervention of Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee officials.

According to one of the victims identified by ZPP as "Moses Chemwanyisa", the perpetrators came at around 3am Sunday last week and woke up his wife and demanded to see him.

"Unfortunately I was not at home after I had gone to Mutare on personal business the previous day. The perpetrators who numbered about 10 then dragged my wife out and tied her with a rope. They proceeded to set the houses on fire and left for Admire Chizikani's homestead where they set two huts on fire after no one had responded," Chemwanyisa is quoted by the ZPP as saying.

He said Chizikani was in Bulawayo attending the MDC-T congress while his family was visiting relatives. "They then proceeded to Mbuya Chizikani's homestead (Admire's mother) set her two huts alight as punishment for allowing her son to join and participate in MDC-T activities," he said. The ZPP said the families lost everything in the attack and were now appealing for assistance especially for shelter.

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