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Mugabe preaches peace and hints at elections as ZANU PF supporters assault councillor and journalist
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

September 06, 2011

President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday 6 September 2011 preached peace for the second time in less than one month but the conduct of some of his supporters left his sincerity questionable.

Supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party on Tuesday assaulted a Harare City Councillor, Victor Chifodya and a freelance journalist, Henry Chimbiri as the octogenarian leader opened a session of parliament.

Mugabe opened the fourth session of the seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe and denounced violence in his speech which was broadcast on national television.

But while President Mugabe was preaching peace, supporters of his ZANU PF party attacked Councillor Chifodya, the chief whip for Harare City Councillors and Chimbiri.

Councillor Chifodya was attacked at the corner of Nelson Mandela Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street in central Harare while on his way to Parliament to attend proceedings in Parliament where he was an invited guest. Chimbiri was filming the arrival of President Mugabe to address Parliament.

Councillor Chifodya sustained a deep cut on his head and is currently receiving medical assistance at a local health institution while Chimbiri sustained injuries leading to a bleeding nose. Chimbiri had by late Tuesday not recovered his video camera.

This is the second time in less than two months that ZANU PF supporters have unleashed violence in the environs of Parliament.

On Saturday 23 July 2011, ZANU PF supporters disrupted a public hearing organized by the Joint Committee of the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and the Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights at Parliament to solicit people's views on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) Bill.

The boisterous ZANU PF supporters verbally abused and assaulted Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Member of Parliament for Hwange Central, Hon. Brian Tshuma for allegedly not singing the anthem and turned their inexplicable anger and violence on journalists from the private media, including Levi Mukarate of The Financial Gazette and Nqaba Matshazi of The Standard and Aaron Ufumeli of NewsDay, who were covering the hearing.

Meanwhile, in his address to Parliament, President Mugabe hinted at imminent plans to hold elections saying bickering parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) had "now agreed on key milestones and timelines in preparation for the holding of national elections."

He said the Referendum Bill together with the Electoral Act agreed to by the GPA negotiators and adopted by the coalition government's Cabinet will soon be tabled before Parliament as part of preparations to hold elections.

Mugabe, who denounced violence appealed to legislators to preach messages of national healing and reconciliation in their constituencies.

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