Timothy Mubawu, a member of Zimbabwe’s leading opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has appeared in court on charges of conspiring to assault a political rival. His request for bail was denied by a magistrate's court Wednesday. Mubawu is suspected of backing MDC militant youths who allegedly assaulted Trudy Stevenson, a member of parliament from a rival faction of the divided MDC. The alleged offence carries a fine of ten million Zimbabwean dollars (100 US dollars) or a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Nelson Chamisa is spokesman for the MDC. In an interview with English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey, he explained his party’s position on the issue of violence. “I must say that as a party we are non-violent, as a party we are very tolerant of diversity of opinions. And that is why in the past six years of our existence we have been focused and committed to eradicating the culture of violence which seem to have been planted in the society as a culture by ZANU-PF (Ruling party). And we continue to say that if you look at what has happened to Honorable Trudy Stevenson, it’s an unfortunate incident, which we have condemned as barbaric. And what’s bothering us is the dilly-dallying of the government of Mugabe’s regime on dealing decisively on violence. If you look at what is happening in Mavuku, the area where the MP (member of parliament) was attacked, the people who are being victimized or being arrested are MDC people but they have nothing to do with what happened there.”
Chamisa says, “At the end of the day the responsibility of protecting and securing citizens lies squarely on the shoulders of a government. And we have had violence, which has been endemic in this country because we have a regime that has abrogated its responsibilities and surrendered its responsibility to protect citizens. That is why we have violence against women, violence against children and our focus in a new Zimbabwe; we are going to have zero tolerance of violence. We blame them for whatever is happening. And what we want to see is a new government where violence is not going to be used as an instrument of communication or an instrument of eradicating certain characters in the society.”
The MDC spokesperson says, “What has come out is that the police themselves are actually saying that they’ve found no shred of evidence linking honorable Mubawu…. Honorable Mubawu was not in fact in Mavuku or in Harare where the incidence took place. But there are indications that these are instructions coming from above by politicians in ZANU-PF because they want to pay a picture of a party that is violent. But MDC has been known to be an icon institution of non-violence.”
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