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Political Violence, Intimidation Continue in Zimbabwe


Although Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has agreed to talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on a possible power sharing arrangement, the country's political violence and intimidation continue. Peta Thornycroft reports ZANU-PF militia are still patrolling vast parts of the country.

Several legislators, who have returned to Harare from hiding places in Zimbabwe and in neighboring countries, say the mood in the country is tense.

They say they dare not go to their homes for fear of being arrested. About 20 winning MDC legislators have been arrested since the elections in March.

One legislator from the eastern Manicaland Province, who spent three weeks in detention recently and asked not to be identified, said members of the ZANU-PF militia are asking for money from people who fled during post-election violence and now want to return home. He said those who have returned have found their assets, such as food and livestock, were taken after the elections.

A parliament member from the Mashonaland East Province, a ZANU-PF stronghold where many voted for the first time for the MDC - said militias still control people's movements in and out of villages.

An MDC legislator in Mutare, Pishai Muchauraya, said his officials are searching for many people listed as missing.

MDC branch chairman Reuben Mutewe, 38, from Manicaland Province, who was abducted from his home June 30, was found in the mortuary at the Mutare General Hospital last Friday.

Muchauraya says they have still not found the body of activist Emmanuel Nyapfungwe, who he says was allegedly murdered June 20 in Manicaland Province.

Meanwhile, farm invasions continue, particularly in the Manicaland province where six white families and their workers were forced to abandon their homes last week.

The agreement signed by ZANU-PF and MDC says the violence is to be discussed during their talks in South Africa.

Another point for negotiations is the resumption of humanitarian aid, banned June 4 by one of ZANU-PF's two negotiators, Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche.

The government has started to sell food aid to those in need at bargain prices. But the Combined Harare Residents' Association said only ZANU-PF members are being given access. The association said many Harare residents are at the point of starvation.