US condemns ZANU (PF) terrorist attacks on MDC supporters
THE United States of America on Monday described the death of a 12-year-old boy in a suspected arson attack in Headlands as an “atrocity” while calling for a swift and professional police investigation.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) said Christpower Simbarashe Maisiri died in the fire on Saturday after “Zanu PF gendarmes” targeted the home of Shepherd Maisiri, whom the party says is its district deputy organising secretary.
But Zanu PF has countered the MDC-T claims by insisting that Maisiri is one of its members, implying that it could not target its own.
Didymus Mutasa, the MP for Headlands, said: “I know Maisiri... he is a member of my party. He comes from Chief Makoni’s area and resides in headmen Dzikiti’s village, but he is not an MDC supporter.”
In a statement on Monday, the MDC-T said it was “enraged” by the incident, adding: “This is the ninth time Maisiri’s house has been attacked by Zanu PF gendarmes, but typically no arrests have ever been made.”
And the United States embassy in Harare identified Christpower’s father as a “Manicaland local official of the MDC-T party”, adding in a statement: “This tragic death presents an opportunity to the government of Zimbabwe... to demonstrate their commitment to justice by swiftly and professionally investigating the circumstances that led to the death of this child.
“If this was a case of arson, particularly if it was politically motivated, swift professional law enforcement work to bring the perpetrators to justice is vital to reassuring Zimbabweans that their political leaders sincerely want, and will insist on, peace and peaceful elections in 2013.”
The Daily News reported on Monday that unidentified individuals attacked Maisiri’s homestead shortly after 7PM on Saturday while he was away, but were repelled by dogs.
The alleged arsonists are said to have returned between 11PM and midnight – this time targeting a hut in which young Christpower and four other children were sleeping.
An unnamed neighbour is quoted as telling the Daily News: “Maisiri’s eldest son smashed the door to the hut and rescued four of the children, but then the roof caved in, trapping the last of the five, who happened to be Christpower.”
President Robert Mugabe and his MDC rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube have been united in calling for violence-free elections, but rights groups say the calls are hollow with persistent reports of intimidation largely blamed on Mugabe’s followers.
And the United States is urging the police to send out a message to political thugs by bringing Christpower’s alleged killers to book.
“We call on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to conduct a thorough investigation of this case and, it if is determined to be arson, to hold all responsible for this atrocity to account,” it said.
“As Zimbabwe brings its Global Political Agreement to an end, non-partisan, efficient, and professional law enforcement is critical to gaining the confidence of the Zimbabwean people, neighboring countries, and the international community.
“Respect for the rule of law and apolitical policing are also essential for creating the conditions for credible and non-violent Zimbabwean elections later this year.”