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The BBC's Grant Ferrett
"The Home Affairs Minister's statement to parliament was greeted with howls of ridicule"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Zimbabwe blames opposition for bomb
Police at MDC offices
Police raided the MDC offices last week
Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo has told parliament that the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was behind a grenade attack last week on its own offices.

Mr Nkomo said police raids on the opposition's premisies had uncovered weapons including grenades and a hand gun.

Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo
Nkomo: Remarks greeted with derision
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai described the accusations as completly without foundation, and the party has reaffirmed its commitment to non-violence.

The Home Affairs Minister statement to parliament was greeted with howls of ridicule and incredulity from members of the opposition.

"You people are insane," shouted one MP.

'Inside job'

The minister told parliament that police investigations revealed without doubt that the explosion at opposition headquarters a week ago was an inside job.

MDC supporters
The MDC gained numerous seats in the last election
Subsequent searches of the MDC's offices and the homes of its members had produced an unspecified number of grenades, a loaded pistol, and 10 cartridges, Mr Nkomo said.

He said key suspects were now known and all that remained was for the police to consolidate evidence.

Raids

Mr Tsvangirai said he was dismayed that a minister he had previously considered to be honourable could make false statements to parliament.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai: Dismayed at minister's remarks
He went on to suggest that the government's intention could be to provide a pretext for banning the MDC, less than 3 months after it came close to winning a majority of the contested seats in parliamentary elections.

Last week the police raided the MDC offices several times, carrying off documents and computers, and arresting four party officials who were later released without charge.

Similar tactics were used against Zapu, the main opposition in the 1980s. The political instability then was resolved only by the signing of a unity accord, which in practice meant the swallowing up of the opposition by the ruling party.

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See also:

14 Sep 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe activists arrested
15 Sep 00 | Africa
MDC offices raided again
12 Sep 00 | Africa
Blast at Zimbabwe opposition HQ
23 Apr 00 | Africa
Bomb attack on Harare newspaper
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