'Genocide' warning in Zimbabwe

Churches seek international intervention as US moves to block arms shipment.

    Church leaders said that opposition supporters have been abducted, tortured and sometimes killed [AFP]
    More than three weeks after the polls, no results from the presidential election have been released, and parliamentary ballots from 23 constituencies are being recounted. 

    'Organised violence'

    In a joint statement, signed by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, church leaders called for outside help to end the problems that have beset the country since the March 29 poll.

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    "Organised violence perpetrated against individuals, families and communities who are accused of campaigning or voting for the 'wrong' political party ... has been unleashed throughout the country," the statement said.
    "We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hot spots in Africa and elsewhere."

    Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman, said that he had visited a hospital in southeastern Zimbabwe on Monday and saw a pregnant woman who had a "wound in her womb'' after being stabbed.

    He said he also saw an 85-year-old woman whose legs had been broken.

    Chamisa attributed both cases to post-election violence.

    State-owned Herald newspaper quoted Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, as saying: "They are saying that we are sponsoring acts of politically motivated violence and anyone will be forgiven for thinking that they are the ones who are fomenting genocide in Zimbabwe."
    Arms shipment

    The accusations of violence came as the United States sought to block a Chinese vessel loaded with weapons from reaching Zimbabwe, the Associated Press news agency said.

    Washington has told diplomats in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola to pressure authorities not to allow the An Yue Jiang to dock.

    The An Yue Jiang had to abandon plans to offload in South Africa on Friday after dock workers won a court order barring it from transporting the cargo overland to Zimbabwe.

    The 300,000-strong South African Transport and Allied Workers Union refused to unload the weapons in Durban, citing concerns that the government of Mugabe might use them to break Zimbabwe's political stalemate.

    ter Mozambique's refusal for entry into its waters, the An Yue Jiang was reportedly headed to Angola, whose president is a long-time ally of Mugabe.

    Filomeno Mendonca, director of the Institute of Angolan Ports, said preventive measures have been taken although the An Yue Jiang has not requested to dock.


    "We have warned our ports that this ship does not have authorisation to enter in Angola and therefore will not be assisted in Angola," Mendonca told a local radio station.

    'Sovereign right'

    Jendayi Frazer, the US state department's Africa expert, is expected to visit the region to underscore US concerns about the arms shipment, and to persuade Zimbabwe's neighbours to pressure the government to publish the election results.

    Zimbabwe's neighbours have barred the vessel
    An Yue Jiang from entering their waters [EPA]

    Zanu-PF officials say Zimbabwe has a sovereign right to defend itself and buy weapons from "any legitimate source worldwide".


    "I don't understand all this hullabaloo about a lone ship," Chinamasa, the justice minister, said in Harare.

    "We don't need clearance from anyone."

    Meanwhile, Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa's ruling ANC party, said Africa must send a mission to Zimbabwe to end the delay in announcing presidential poll result.

    "It's not acceptable. It's not helping the Zimbabwean people who have gone out to ... elect the kind of party and presidential candidate they want, exercising their constitutional right."

    His remarks appear to contradict those of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president and former ANC leader, who has long insisted on a discreet approach he calls "quiet diplomacy".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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