MDC supporters continue to be intimidated, harassed, and violently attacked by youth groups, militias and war veterans who are loyal to ZANU-PF according to recent reports. In Mashonaland East, a young female MDC activist was hospitalized after being brutally attacked twice in the past two weeks by ZANU-PF supporters. Despite filing a police report, which lists some of her attackers by name, there have been no arrests.
Sadly, her story is not unique. In Bulawayo this past month, an MDC activist was falsely accused of insulting Mugabe, and harassed and threatened before being detained by the police for almost a week. Despite MDC protests, ZANU-PF supporters continue to target MDC activists, unconcerned by the fact that the MDC is one-half of Zimbabwe’s unity government.
This persecution has not been limited to MDC activists. On Tuesday another MDC parliamentarian was convicted and sentenced to a year in jail after being found guilty of diverting agricultural materials provided by the state. He is the fifth Member of Parliament from the MDC who has been convicted and sentenced, and one of 13 MDC members of parliament caught up in legal cases. The MDC claims the charges are false, and asserted on Wednesday that “the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe is plotting with other mischievous conspirators to whittle away at the MDC majority in parliament.”
These incidents demonstrate the fragility of Zimbabwe’s unity government and raise questions about how much power Tsvangirai and the MDC truly wield. The international community has been concerned with the unity government’s viability and ability to bring-about lasting political change since its creation. It is clear from these recent reports that there is still much work to be done, and that a country where one-half of the government and its supporters continue to be persecuted is not really ‘united’ or committed to lasting change.