Mass Trial Of MDC Supporters To Start 28 Ocotober
Villagers suspected of being MDC supporters were not only thoroughly beaten up (as in the photo above, showing accused MDC supporters with broken arms), but they also had their property stolen in the confusion. Those seeking to get back what was taken from them, in the mistaken belief that their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has the power to protect them now that he is Prime Minister are themselves being arrested and tried for "disturbing the peace." 88 such MDC supporters are due to stand trial on 28 October for going to a village in Nyanga to demand the return of their property.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 13 October 2009
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have just reminded the world that the mass trial of 88 villagers in Nyanga facing extortion charges for demanding the return of their looted property from ZANU PF supporters last year will start at the end of this month.
They were supposed to go on trial last month, but the Magistrate allocated the case in the mountainous and picturesque district of Manicaland Province was said to be too busy with other things.
Blessing Nyamaropa, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights projects officer in Manicaland says he is not sure how long the trial will take.
The villagers are currently out on bail. They were arrested in March this year after they went to Chifambe villagers, where they knew the people who had dispossessed them to be staying. They demanded to given back their goats, chickens and maize (corn) which had been looted in the run-up to the extremely violent June 2008 Presidential election "run-off", which Mugabe subsequently "won" with around 85% of the votes.
The background is very familiar to those who have were in Zimbabwe in June last year.
ZANU PF supporters, backed by armed men and so-called "war veterans" set up a camp in Nyanga North which they called Chamagonahapana (You Have Achieved Nothing).
Villagers were taken to this camp where they were beaten up (at some of the camps, young girls were "confiscated" to cook for the "war vets" and those staying at the camp and allegation of rape were pervasive.)
After they were beaten up, they were asked to bring their livestock and grain to feed the people who had beaten them up. When they hesitated, their tormentors went to their village and ran down every chicken they could see, raided the granaries and carried off as many goats as they pleased.
The 88 Nyanga villagers say that they reported the matter to local police but the police simply ignored the reports.
This prosecution is not an isolated incident, either. In the same month, March, MDC supporters in Harare who had been thrown out of their homes in Mbare by ZANU PF supporters went to reclaim these houses (mostly flats). The new occupants, ZANU PF supporters, refused to vacate the flats and a disturbance followed.
The MDC supporters then went to report the matter to police and were promptly arrested. Their trial, which had also been set for August this year, is yet to take place.
In the mistaken euphoria after the swearing-in of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, MDC supporters, including some whom one would have thought were intelligent enough to realise they had been sold a dummy by Mugabe and Tsvangirai, assumed that since their man was now PM, they were not in control in the country.
They ignored Mugabe's warning, given in an address to his Central Committee around the same time that he would "tolerate no nonsense from our new partners in government."
MDC supporters and officials claimed they were now freely holding MDC meeting deep in rural areas of Zimbabwe, that Mugabe and Tsvangirai were equals. Tsvangirai himself told a 10th anniversary rally of his party: "There is nothing Mugabe does without my approval now."
So, those who had been violated decided to seek justice, but the police, whom the MDC co-Minister of Home Affairs said yesterday were a professional force "well-trained in human rights issues" were not interested.
So they decided to do the job themselves.
This is their reward.