Mugabe Regime has Lost Legitimacy, say Christians in South Africa

A South Africa-based Christian group has released a report warning of growing state repression against opponents to Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

In Tuesday's report from the church-based Solidarity Peace Trust, church leaders belonging to the trust said that the ruling party had lost much of its political legitimacy, according to SW Radio Africa, an independent Zimbabwean radio station based in England.

According to Selvan Chetty, the Deputy Director of the Solidarity Peace Trust, the report documents the "systematic" attacks of the state on the leadership and members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Chance (MDC) and the civic movement.

The leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested at a political rally earlier in the year and emerged from a police station days later with visible bruising and injuries.

Chetty claimed that there was a "dual motive" behind the state violence to "seriously disable the structures of the MDC before the 2008 elections" and to "criminalise" the MDC by re-branding it as a terrorist organisation, reports SW Radio Africa.

The report was launched at a meeting in Johannesburg chaired by Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenberg in South Africa, who said that the Solidarity Peace Trust had analysed more than 400 incidents of violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe since March.

Based on these incidents, they drew the conclusion that Mugabe's regime was pursuing a deliberate strategy to repress the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai while maintaining friendlier relations with the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC faction in order to exploit existing tensions between the two sides.

Bishop Dowling added that their investigations had found that around 90 per cent of attacks were perpetrated by law enforcement officers.

"We believe more and more people are beginning to see that this is an illegitimate regime which uses torture and all kinds of horrible human rights abuses to cow the population, to crush people's spirit and to prevent legitimate dissent," he was quoted as saying by the radio station.

The Solidarity Peace Trust report concludes that state violence is not a sporadic response to dissension in Zimbabwe. Rather its systematic use forms the cornerstone of the Mugabe regime's relations with the people of Zimbabwe.

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