MDC and Zanu-PF call for end to violence in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's main opposition party and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party have issued a joint communique condemning violence, according to an opposition spokesman.

George Sibotshiwe, a spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, said yesterday the communique was agreed to as part of a deal that opened the way to power-sharing talks. Those talks are continuing in an attempt to end a deadly political standoff.

Sibotshiwe did not immediately have details of the statement.

Attempts to reach officials of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party were not immediately successful, and Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, said he was not aware that a statement had been released.

In an agreement signed July 21 providing a framework for the power-sharing talks, both opposition factions and ZANU-PF pledged to issue statements that would condemn "the promotion and use of violence and call for peace in the country." The negotiations started three days later, briefly broke down and then resumed Sunday. They have been held at a secret location in South Africa, mediated by a team led by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said he could not confirm that a statement on violence had been released.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special Zimbabwe envoy was headed to South Africa Wednesday to get an update on the negotiations, Ban's office said. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios also was to visit Zimbabwe later in the week, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters.

Mugabe is accused of unleashing security forces and party militants on opposition activists after Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe and two other candidates in March presidential elections. Scores of people have been killed and thousands forced from their homes in the violence. There have been reports of opposition retaliatory attacks, but not on the scale of state-sponsored attacks.

Mugabe, 84, and his ruling ZANU-PF party have led the country since independence in 1984. Mugabe was once hailed for championing racial reconciliation and spurring development, but in recent years has been accused of trampling on human and political rights to hold onto power, and of overseeing dramatic economic decline.

The economy was the main issue in the March elections, in which Tsvangirai won the most votes and the opposition seized a majority in parliament for the first time since Mugabe took power.

However, election officials said Tsvangirai did not win enough votes for outright victory. He pulled out of a June runoff against Mugabe, citing the violence against his supporters. Mugabe ran alone and declared himself winner of an election widely discredited as a sham.

Zimbabweans face the world's highest inflation and acute shortages of food and fuel. Private financial institutions say Zimbabwe's inflation rate was about 12.5 million percent in May and estimate it has likely climbed to 50 million percent this month.

On Wednesday, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, citing reports up to 5 million Zimbabweans could face a food crisis by the beginning of 2009, appealed for about US$26 million (€17 million) in donations to help 260,000 "vulnerable people."

Matthew Cochrane, a Johannesburg-based international Red Cross spokesman, said food distribution would start in coming weeks.

Mugabe ordered aid groups to suspend field work June 5 ahead of the presidential runoff, accusing them of supporting the opposition. Aid groups said that following the ban, which has since been partially lifted, the government has given food primarily to Mugabe supporters.

Cochrane said the Red Cross had not been affected by the ban, and has been primarily helping Zimbabweans affected by AIDS. He said the appeal was part of a plan to extend Red Cross aid operations in Zimbabwe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Head Porter / Concierge

£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks