A mass grave in Zimbabwe has become a propaganda tool for President Robert Mugabe as he seeks a new election to end the country's tense power-sharing government.
The pro-Mugabe state media has given saturation coverage to the discovery of nearly 1,000 bodies in an abandoned mine shaft. The Monkey William mine is located near Mount Darwin, about 150 kilometers northeast of the capital, Harare.
Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party says the dead are liberation fighters killed by white colonial troops more than 30 years ago in what was then Rhodesia.
However, officials of the Movement for Democratic Change — ZANU-PF's partner in the government — suspect some of the corpses are of people killed since Mr. Mugabe took power in 1980. An Associated Press report Thursday said some of the bodies still had skin, hair and body fluids, raising questions about when they were killed.
During a state-guided trip by foreign media to the site, Mugabe officials denounced whites and linked Prime Minister and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to the West.
A ZANU-PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, suggested Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC party did not attend – in his words – “considering their association with the Rhodesians and the West.”
Mr. Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing government with Mr. Tsvangirai after a disputed election in 2008. Since then, the longtime rivals have been at odds, and the country's political future remains uncertain.
Mr. Mugabe has called for new elections to be held later this year. Mr. Tsvangirai has objected, saying conditions must be in place for a free and fair election.
A coalition of human rights groups in Zimbabwe has said free and fair elections are unlikely and government abuses are escalating. The MDC has accused the pro-ZANU-PF police of harassing its leaders and blocking the party from holding rallies.
Article by VOA News