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Anxiety Grows for Kidnapped Zimbabwe Activist


Concern is growing about the fate of one of Zimbabwe's best-known activists, arrested more times than any other, was kidnapped from his home six days ago. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA from Harare post-election violence continues across Zimbabwe.

Tonderai Ndira is 33, married with a couple of children, and lives in the heart of one of Zimbabwe's most politically volatile urban slums, Mabvuku, on the eastern edge of Harare.

Last Wednesday men in plain clothes, driving a white 4x4 pick-up truck went to his house and allegedly beat Ndira in front of Raphael and Linette, his two children, and then took him away.

Nothing hs been heard from him since then. Four other Harare activists who were kidnapped in the same period have since been released and are back at home.

From the time the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was formed in September 1999, Ndira has been active in the streets and in urban structures and in every pro-democracy campaign.

At last count, his family and friends believe he has been arrested at least 35 times, certainly a record in Zimbabwe's political history. Last year he spent five months in detention. He has never been to trial in connection with any of his arrests because police have not presented evidence of a crime.

He has regularly been assaulted by alleged ZANU-PF members or the security forces during political violence and was hospitalized with serious injuries in 2003.

Although he is in robust health normally, like other former detainees he has bouts of frail health when he is released from police custody.

A Harare judge recently described conditions in Harare's police cells as unfit for human occupation.

Security Minister Didymus Mutasa and Zimbabwe police and army officials have not responded to question's about Ndira's disappearance.

The MDC says that more than 30 of its supporters and activists have been killed since Zimbabwe's March 29 election.

Several retired South African generals, who returned last week after investigating the violence in Zimbabwe, say they have informed South African president Thabo Mbeki that they have been shocked at the violence they have investigated.

President Mugabe has denounced the political violence, but says ZANU-PF could never be involved in violence against its people. He blames the MDC.

But most observers say the mounting violence and intimidation, mainly targeting opposition supporters, make it virtually impossible for a planned June 27 presidential runoff to be credible.

In the March 29 polling the MDC defeated ZANU-PF in parliamentary elections. MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mr. Mugabe in the presidential vote count, but official results say he did not win a 50 percent majority so there will be a second round on June 27.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai postponed his return to Zimbabwe from South Africa due to assassination fears. It is unclear when he would return to campaign for the presidential run-off.


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