Zimbabwe’s opposition party has reported that at least 113 of its members have been killed in political violence since the country held its first round of presidential voting in March.
Among the dead was Gift Mutsvungunu, who helped the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) monitor voting in the capital Harare, MDC said in a statement.
He disappeared last week and his body, with eyes gouged out and back severely burned, was discovered yesterday, MDC said.
President Robert Mugabe claimed victory in a widely denounced June 27 presidential run-off in which he was the only candidate.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mr Mugabe and two other candidates in the first round of voting in March, but pulled out of the June run-off because of state-supported violence against his supporters.
The chief negotiator for Zimbabwe’s opposition returned home yesterday after going to South Africa to set out conditions for substantive talks with Mr Mugabe’s government — chief among those being an end to violence blamed on Mugabe’s supporters.
Chief negotiator Tendai Biti met today with Zimbabwean government officials.
Opposition spokesman Nqobizitha Mlilo said more talks were expected, but no date was yet set.
Once substantive negotiations begin, the goal would be forming a coalition government.
Both sides say they are willing to share power, if only during a transition to new elections, but differ on who should lead it. Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF wants Mr Mugabe at the head, something the opposition and Mr Mugabe’s critics in the West have rejected.
Beside ending the violence, other opposition conditions for holding talks include appointing another mediator alongside Mr Mbeki, whom the opposition says is biased toward Mr Mugabe.
The opposition also is calling for the release of political prisoners, allowing humanitarian organisations to resume work and for parliament to be convened.