Did Zimbabwe's Mugabe Try to Use Exhumed Bodies for Votes?

By Miriam Krule

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was dealt a rare upset on Tuesday when the country's Parliament re-elected Lovemore Moyo, one of his political opponents, to serve as its speaker. Though unsuccessful, Mugabe's party ZANU-PF has been accused of trying to bribe rival lawmakers to vote for their candidate. But this isn't the only scandal in which he and his party are currently embroiled. Earlier this month, hundreds of remains were exhumed from a disused mineshaft. For many days, the state-controlled media paid particular attention to the discovery steering the coverage in Mugabe's favor.

Zanu-PF ministers have been on hand to declare that the corpses were victims of the liberation struggle, murdered by forces of the white Rhodesian leader, Ian Smith, during the 1970s. Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and others have been quick to build political capital out of the gruesome site - explicitly linking the past atrocities to the alleged "pro-white" tendencies of their current rivals in the MDC.

While no one is denying that the graves and corpses are genuine, many are questioning the timing of this "discovery" and whether they are truly victims of the liberation war. As a result, Mugabe is now under pressure to order the exhumation of the thousands that were murdered in the 1980s during the Gukurahundi massacres. More than 20,000 innocent people are believed to have been murdered by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade with Mugabe's government claiming at the time that they wanted to crush a rebellion by supposed dissidents.  

Read the full story at the BBC.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/03/did-zimbabwes-mugabe-try-to-use-exhumed-bodies-for-votes/73243/