CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS): Zimbabweans in rural areas “fear for their lives”, a Church official said after a report warned that Zimbabwe is headed toward civil war.
Post-election attacks have been “most severe” in rural areas, and many Zimbabweans in these areas may be too afraid to vote for the opposition in the run-off presidential election on June 27, head of Zimbabwe’s Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Alouis Chaumba said.
However, many people in the country’s towns and cities “are motivated to vote again to ensure an end to the present system”, he told Catholic News Service in a May 26 telephone interview from the capital, Harare.
“Many communities feel that voting will be an act of solidarity with their friends who have been killed or wounded in the violence, so that they did not die in vain,” Mr Chaumba said.
A report on post-election violence in Zimbabwe by the Solidarity Peace Trust, an ecumenical group of Church organisations from Zimbabwe and South Africa, said, “There needs to be a general recognition that Zimbabwe is sinking fast into the conditions of a civil war, propelled largely by the increasing reliance on violence by the ruling party to stay in power, and the rapidly shrinking spaces for any form of peaceful political intervention.”
The report, released in Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 21, contained about 50 eyewitness accounts of orchestrated beatings, torture and the destruction of homes and shops.
The results of the March 29 parliamentary and presidential elections are “a clear message that, despite the extremely harsh and repressive political environment in which elections have been conducted in Zimbabwe, the people of the country found the ‘resources of hope’ required to say no to continued authoritarian rule,” it said.
In their late May newsletter, Zimbabwe’s Jesuits said there had been “vicious, premeditated violence” on an unprecedented scale in the country since the elections.
They urged opposition supporters who have been attacked by government agents to resist the temptation to retaliate, saying this would be “civil war”.
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