Zimbabwe: Makumbe fails to substantiate violence claims
Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2008

Crime Reporter
July 26, 2008
The Herald

TRANSPARENCY International chairman and University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe has failed to substantiate his claims of post-June 27 presidential run-off election violence in some parts of Zimbabwe admitting that he was relying on reports from a foreign pirate radio station and a foreign newspaper.

Makumbe’s claims that some people had taken refuge in mountains because of acts of violence made on a live ZBC-TV programme "Zimbabwe Today" were condemned by the Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa that called on Zimbabweans to refrain from provocative statements when political parties are engaged in dialogue to solve the country’s problems.

Following the claims police summoned Makumbe to furnish them with more information to back his allegations but he could not provide a shred of evidence.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said they visited Makumbe at his University of Zimbabwe offices to verify the authenticity of his allegations.

"He only referred the officers who quizzed him to a hostile newspaper, The Zimbabwean, and said he had got some of his information from the pirate radio station run by Voice of America," he said.

Police have since dismissed Makumbe’s claims saying they were unfounded and meant to cause alarm and despondency.

Chief Supt Mandipaka said Makumbe had misled the nation into believing that violence was still prevalent yet there were no cases of violence since the elections ended.

"It is very unfortunate that a professor can go on national television to make such allegations without any shred of evidence. Such utterances are, in our view, calculated to cause despondency and are alarming to the country," Chief Supt Mandipaka said adding that every citizen must act responsibly by verifying the facts.

Makumbe confirmed yesterday that police visited him saying he had referred them to Studio 7 and The Zimbabwean.

The Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa yesterday called on political parties, trade unions, the media and civil society to refrain from provocative actions and statements at a time when the country’s political parties are engaged in dialogue aimed at finding lasting solutions to the current challenges.

In a statement yesterday, CPIA executive director Dr Leonard Kapungu applauded President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara for signing a Memorandum of Understanding that paved the way for talks.

"We hope that the substantive talks now underway will be conducted in a mature and rational manner in the spirit of compromise, with the interests of Zimbabweans at the centre of the discussions," he said.

"We sincerely hope that the hard bargaining and ‘horse trading’ inherent in negotiations will be tempered with selfless pragmatism so as to bring about a lasting solution to the political impasse, economic meltdown and social dislocation besetting the country."

The CPIA said there is need for negotiators to be single-minded and focus on the big national

picture at the expense of self-interests and narrow partisan considerations.

It appealed to the negotiators to ensure that Zimbabweans would buy into the new dispensation to emerge from the talks.

"To this end the document being crafted by the negotiators should have the seal of approval and legitimacy of all Zimbabweans, through a referendum, before it becomes the supreme law of the land."

The CPIA believes that the negotiations should go beyond the short- and long-term solutions in purely constitutional terms.

It said the talks presented a glorious opportunity for the negotiators to bring on board other issues like reconciliation.

"We hope and pray that the negotiators will be able to deliver at the earliest opportunity. At the same time we call upon all political parties, trade unions, civil society, individuals and the media to refrain from provocative actions and making careless statements," the statement said.


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