RAPAPORT… Zimbabwe’s Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) and the Peace-Building & Capacity Development Foundation (PACDEF) issued a joint statement calling for the Southern African Development Community to ensure a peaceful environment ahead of the nation’s elections, following the death of 12-year-old Christpower Maisiri on February 23.
Maisiri’s charred body was laid to rest today in a remote village of the Headlands following Saturday’s arson fire that gutted the hut where he and four siblings slept. The other children escaped the blaze. His father, Shepherd Maisiri, is a Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) party official running for local office. CNRG and PACDEF called the incident ”an apparent case of politically motivated violence.”
President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Frong (ZANU-PF) party claimed no involvement in the arson attack and instead blamed the MDC-T for staging the fire in an effort to gain international attention.
“ZANU-PF as a party does not condone violence. Our leader, President Robert Mugabe, has relentlessly called for tolerance and non-violence and we have no reason to believe that our members would so openly defy his genuine efforts to make sure we have a peaceful referendum as well as free and fair elections,” according to a party statement.
However, the MDC-T issued a statement listing five ZANU-PF officials involved in the arson crime, including Shepherd’s chief political rival, Didymus Mutasa, along with Gilbert Makura, lsaac Dhongo, Anaah Mumbana and Tendai Gosho.
Christpower’s mother, Beauty, was quoted in the Zimbabwe Daily News as saying, “I was raped in 2008 by a ZANU-PF election agent, Lovemore Manenji; my house was burnt eight times by ZANU-PF supporters. I want Mutasa to come out clean in this matter or else the blood of my son will not rest until the truth is known about those behind the killing.”
CNRG and PACDEF stated that the only point of agreement between the political parties is that a young life has been lost and with it a great potential, hope and a future.
”The death of Christpower Maisiri is a painful reminder of a deep-rooted culture of violence and intolerance that has defined politics in Zimbabwe for over three decades. It is also a reality check on things that have changed and things that have remained the same since the formation of the inclusive government over four years ago,” according to the joint statement.
The groups acknowledged that violence often escalates ahead of presidential elections, which are scheduled to take place later this year. ”There is a high likelihood of widespread violence once the election dates have been announced. Violence physically destroys victims and kills the conscience of perpetrators, leaving society in a state of decay,” the groups warned.
The Southern African Development Community is the guarantor of the Global Political Agreement which gave birth to the current ZANU-PF / MDC-T inclusive government. CNRG and PACDEF urged the governing body to take the incident as a wake-up call. Furthermore, they called upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the judiciary to deal with the matter impartially so as to serve the interests of justice.