Man dies after gang attack by Mugabe’s party

Harare, Zimbabwe – A security guard has died of his injuries, hospital officials said, following a weekend attack by a gang of youths from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in the Zimbabwean capital.

Crispen Mandizvidza was walking a relative home on Sunday night in Harare’s crowded Mbare township when about 50 youths from the party descended on them, said the officials, who asked not to be named.

Mandizvidza was forced to the ground and youths bludgeoned his stomach with crowbars.

The incident came as hundreds of Zanu-PF youths, bused in from rural areas, were deployed all over the capital to disrupt meetings held by a parliamentary committee to canvas the views of ordinary Zimbabweans on what they want in a new constitution.

Eleven other people were injured, and a 26-year-old woman is still in the private Avenues Clinic with head injuries.

Witnesses said large numbers of police were deployed, but took no action as Mugabe’s youths hurled stones at supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and attacked them with iron bars, took over the parliamentary committee’s meetings and drove out white participants.

‘Most serious’ violence

Observers said the violence was the most serious since Mugabe and Tsvangirai established a coalition government in February last year.

Tsvangirai told a press conference later that the “needless violence and loss of life was a stark reminder of our dark past” – a reference to the murder, torture and intimidation meted out to his MDC supporters in the 2008 presidential elections.

The meetings in Harare of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee were meant to have been the last in a three-month nationwide process, but were preceded by severe intimidation by youths and soldiers with automatic rifles threatening those who attended.

Tsvangirai said the consultation process fails to pass the test of legitimacy and credibility – but stopped short of rejecting the process.

He also said he and Mugabe would be meeting soon to map a way ahead on the constitution-consultation process, ahead of elections agreed for next year. 

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