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Thu Nov 27 10:14:53 SAST 2014

Stop harassment of Mugabe critics, says Zimbabwe churches

Sapa-dpa | 13 February, 2011 19:040 Comments
GIVING THEM STICK: The Times' columnist Justice Malala wants President Thabo Mbeki to stop police brutality in neighbouring Zimbabwe. 25/07/2007. © AP Zimbabwean police assault members of the National Constitutional Assembly who were demonstrating for a new Constitution in Harare, Wednesday, July, 25, 2007. Zimbabwe which is set to hold elections next year has one of the worst human rights record in the world.

Zimbabwean churches have demanded a meeting with the police commissioner to ask him to end what they said was the harassment of those who had been driven from their homes by gangs loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

The last three weeks has seen a surge in the number of attacks in the capital, Harare, on supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The premier says more than 1,000 people have been displaced by the violence.

Observers have said the attacks are directly linked to Mugabe’s threat to call early elections this year. The two-year-old, power- sharing government led by Mugabe and Tsvangirai is close to collapse due to disagreements over political reform.

The Christian Alliance, an umbrella group for most of the country’s Protestant churches, said Sunday that police had last week twice raided a church property in Harare where people accused of being Tsvangirai supporters and driven from their homes had found shelter.

In the town of Glen Norah, police raided and assaulted about 100 people sheltering in another church property, activists group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.

The Christian Alliance said it was seeking an audience with police commissioner Augustine Chihuri to protest the alleged violence.

Earlier this month, a mob of youth marched from the offices of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party to Harare’s business district, attacking foreigners and looting foreign-run businesses, whom they accused of destroying the economy.

At the end of January, an independent watchdog, the Southern African Coalition for Survivors of Torture, also warned of increasing incidents of political brutality and violent intimidation by militias under Mugabe’s control.

Meanwhile on Sunday, state media reported that Mugabe had flown to Singapore on Friday for a check-up following an earlier operation there to remove a cataract.

The government in January denied press reports that Mugabe was ill and had undergone surgery in the Far East.

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