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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 01:20 GMT
Man arrested over Zanu-PF death
Zimbabwe war veterans
More than 40 people have died this year in political violence
A Zimbabwe opposition politician was arrested on Thursday and 14 opposition activists appeared in court after the alleged murder of a supporter of President Robert Mugabe's land reform campaign.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai: Zanu PF are attempting to intimidate political opposition
Fletcher Dulini Ncube did not appear in court on Thursday after he handed himself in to police in the city of Bulawayo following state media reports indicated that he was on the run.

The other 14 activists appeared in a Bulawayo court on various charges of murder and plotting to kill officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube said on Thursday that the 14 activists were not asked to plead, but would refute the charges once they reappeared in court on Friday.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party has rejected government claims that it was behind the abduction and murder of Cain Nkala in Bulawayo.

If they [the MDC] want a bloodbath, they will certainly get it

Vice President
Joseph Msika

The body of Nkala was found in a shallow grave on Tuesday, a week after he was kidnapped from his home by armed assailants. He had been strangled with his shoe laces.

The minister of home affairs has been quoted as saying that the police are actively investigating leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change.

But the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, says this is a pretext to intimidate the opposition ahead of presidential elections due early next year.

More than 40 people have been killed in politically-motivated violence since President Mugabe was defeated in a constitutional referendum in February 2000.


Most of the violence has been blamed on supporters of Mr Mugabe, especially war veterans involved in the occupation of white-owned land.

Since Mr Nkala's abduction, there have been isolated cases of violence against MDC members in Bulawayo and Harare - both opposition strongholds.

On Saturday, war veterans, closely allied to Zanu-PF, stormed the headquarters of the MDC in the capital.

"If they [the MDC] want a bloodbath, they will certainly get it," said Vice President Joseph Msika.

Prime suspect

Mr Nkala was a prime suspect in the abduction of an MDC polling agent, Patrick Nabanyama, on the eve of the June 2000 parliamentary elections.

This raises suspicions that the two young men were tortured into admitting something that they did not do

Welshman Ncube, MDC
It is widely believed that Mr Nabanyama was murdered but his body has never been found.

Mr Tsvangirai condemned the murder of Mr Nkala and called for the culprits to be brought to justice.

"Our conscience is clear," he said.

State television had shown two men confessing to the murder and says they are members of the MDC.

The MDC has not disputed that the men are members and secretary general Welshman Ncube has complained that they have not been given access to lawyers.

"This raises suspicions that the two young men were tortured into admitting something that they did not do," he said.

See also:

16 Nov 01 | Africa
UN land team in Harare
12 Oct 01 | Africa
Mugabe opponent attacked
06 Oct 01 | Africa
Judge condemns Zimbabwe 'terror'
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