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Trapped in a Harare nightmare

Latest update : 2008-06-23

Less than one week before Zimbabwe's presidential runoff election, opposition members from the Movement for Democratic Change are being violently targeted by ruling-party militias. (Report: A. Duval Smith and E. Jongwe)

HARARE - The building’s foundation is the only thing left; everything else vanished into smoke. The remains belong to a municipal councillor of the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare. Absent during the fire, his grandmother describes the horrific scene waiting for her when she arrived.

“When I came and I saw that that little person of mine was lying like this, he was lying like this with his hand along to the door and all the matungu (intestines) were out and I started crying and crying and crying. And I didn't know that my mrora (daughter in law) was burnt also.”

The woman continues: “She (the daughter-in-law) was pregnant. While still burning she told me ‘they kicked me mama.’ They kicked her in the stomach.”

Her sister-in-law told her the little she knows about the culprits: “She said they came... five men. They said get in the house. Where is Brian? Where is the councillor who contested for the MDC? We said, 'we don't know. He went there'. And they said 'get in the house'. And then my sister-in-law said they went inside and they threw fire inside and they closed the door.”

Singed with third-degree burns, the councillor’s wife did not survive the attack. He was able to escape through the backdoor just before the attackers arrived. The elderly woman has not received news from him since.

This story is not uncommon in Harare. At least six deputies, senators and councilmen elected from MDC’s ranks on March 29 have disappeared or gone into hiding. The families of the party’s members have been the target of attacks. The wife of the new mayor of Harare was beaten to death in front of her four-year-old son.

These victims can be added to at least 70 other assassinated MDC members, and 25,000 citizens in rural areas who have been displaced by militias to stop them from going to their respective voting stations for Friday’s presidential run-off.

Date created : 2008-06-21