Business Day (Johannesburg)

Zimbabwe: SA's Opposition accuses Mugabe of Mobilising Militias

Cape Town — Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is rearming and mobilising his infamous militias ahead of a referendum and an electoral showdown with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the Democratic Alliance said yesterday after a fact-finding mission north of the Limpopo.

The report by Wilmot James and Kenneth Mubu recorded that the Chinese boat load of weapons and ammunition that had been refused transit through SA had been flown to Zimbabwe from Angola.

There is also a deal pending before SA's arms control authorities to sell ammunition to Zimbabwe.

James, the party's representative to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Mubu, the international relations spokesman, called on President Jacob Zuma , in his role as SADC chairman, to ensure that Mugabe abided by the agreement with the MDC he had signed.

They also urged full support for the unity government and efforts to promote economic recovery .

The two MPs, after returning from Zimbabwe late last month, said credible sources had reported that Mugabe was "mobilising his well-organised paramilitary terror apparatus in the countryside". The MPs said "they should be actively restrained by SADC and specifically by ... President Jacob Zuma, as its chairperson ".

They called on Zuma to "be prepared to -- in collaboration with other agencies -- send enough election monitors to cover every voting station in time for the forthcoming referendum and any elections flowing from that; by assisting the Joint Monitoring and Implementations Committee of the Global Political Agreement, to keep president Mugabe and prime minister Tsvangirai to its terms .

This included "the writing of a new constitution, the introduction of the rule of law, free political activity, freedom of assembly and association, security of persons, freedom of expression and other key elements as contained in the agreement".

They continued, "as Zanu (PF) and president Mugabe appear to be mobilising for war against their own citizens and as they have ... in the past used national elections to terrorise the Zimbabwean people, we believe it is appropriate to request Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea to desist (from) funding Mugabe's war machine and for SA to impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe".

James and Bubu said before their visit they had not appreciated "how well oiled is Mugabe's repressive machinery". They said he had under his personal control a paramilitary machine consisting of soldiers, thugs, the so-called war veterans and Zanu (PF) political commissars.

The Human Rights NGO Forum said that last year alone there had been six politically motivated rape cases, 107 murders, 137 kidnappings, and 1913 assault cases .

"Mugabe and his cronies surely have a record that would lead them to the International Criminal Court....

"There are reports of ... increasing paramilitary activity in the countryside, especially in the Shona populated areas. Hit squads are still busy. Land invasions have not ceased. The judicial machinery is still being used for Zanu (PF) ends," they said.

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