The sequence of events that produced the current deadlock in Zimbabwe began on 11 March last year when Morgan Tsvangirai and a number of other members of the Movement for Democratic Change were arrested, tortured and beaten. Robert Mugabe had banned all MDC meetings and rallies in the hope of suppressing the MDC completely before this year's elections. The local churches entered the fray and organised a prayer meeting in Highfield, a suburb of Harare. Tsvangirai drove to the meeting, but found that the area had been cordoned off by riot police and the meeting closed down on presidential orders. Informed a little later that a large number of civic leaders and MDC activists had been arrested and were being held at Machipisa police station in Highfield, he drove there straightaway. As soon as he arrived, he was pulled from his car and his head repeatedly slammed against the wall by police. Inside, the police used rifle butts, army belts, whips and sjamboks. 'They were mostly targeting my head and my face,' Tsvangirai recalled. He passed out three times and was revived with buckets of cold water so that the beatings could continue, the most determined assailant being a woman with an army belt.
LRB 8 May 2008 | PDF Download