MDC under police siege

HARARE - In a tense stand-off spawned by the much-condemned abduction of pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara on Monday, as well as the ensuing sympathy demonstration by angry youths in central Harare on Wednesday, heavily-armed anti-riot police continue to cordon off opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC headquarters in the capital.

The savage siege, which MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu described yesterday as “a throwback to the terrible years of naked repression”, has heightened fears that a major crackdown against political opponents of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF is in the offing.

Gutu spoke to the Daily News after dozens of the party’s workers at Harvest House — including Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka — were viciously assaulted on Wednesday night by police who stormed the building soon after the Dzamara sympathy demonstration.

The police were bizarrely demanding that a helmet and baton stick which were allegedly stolen by the demonstrators be returned back by the party, notwithstanding which there would be “blood on the shop floor” — even as MDC officials professed their ignorance about the stolen items.

Gutu said the siege of the party’s headquarters was “a clear sign that President Robert Mugabe and his government are in panic mode”, as three truckloads of anti-riot policemen had descended on Harvest House “armed to the teeth”.

“They (Police) demanded to enter Harvest House in order to retrieve the helmet and baton stick that they alleged had been stolen by MDC youths who had staged a peaceful demonstration earlier on Wednesday, calling for the release of the abducted journalist-cum-human rights activist, Itai Dzamara,” Gutu said.

Surprisingly, and notwithstanding “the helmet and baton stick excuse”, the siege of the MDC’s headquarters was continuing, amid clear indications that this was about “intimidating and harassing” the MDC and its employees.

“The (anti) riot police are still camped outside Harvest House and they have cordoned off the road adjacent to our party head office and in the process, prevented our staffers from gaining access into the building.

“The MDC is under siege from the Zanu PF regime whose days are now clearly numbered,” Gutu added.

Contacted for comment yesterday, police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she had not been briefed about the siege.

But MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, who was lurking close to the party headquarters when the Daily News visited Harvest House yesterday, accused police of employing “unlawful and unnecessarily heavy-handed methods” against the opposition.

“The youths were demonstrating demanding the disclosure of the whereabouts of  Dzamara and now the police are at our offices as if it is wrong to demonstrate. As a party, we support the demonstration because the government and police must tell us where Dzamara is,” Mwonzora said.

He added that the country was “quickly relapsing to the dark days of intimidation and repression.”

“This is the modus operandi of Zanu PF. This is the same way abductions were carried by the State in the past.

“Had it been somebody else the government would have been on its feet searching for him, but because it is a pro-democracy activist they are not concerned and it has the footprints of the Zanu PF government,” Mwonzora said.

Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Parliament on Wednesday that he was also concerned about the abduction and whereabouts of Dzamara.

Asked in Parliament on Wednesday the measures that the government was taking to find Dzamara, Mnangagwa said, “I am very grateful for that question as it is of national interest.

“We are a democratic society and we believe every citizen of this country has the right to do what they want to do peacefully. I can assure the House that it (the abduction) is a barbaric act and we want those responsible to come to book”.

But Mwonzora accused Mnangagwa of “speaking with a decidedly forked tongue”.

“He (Mnangagwa) is a hypocritical man, he is lying.  He knows where Dzamara is, or should know where they are keeping him,” he said.

And as the anger among Zimbabweans regarding Dzamara’s abduction continues to mount, his distraught wife, Sheffa, made an emotional plea to his abductors on Wednesday to release him, saying the couple’s minor children were in distress and crying for their father to come back home.

The 36-year-old journalist, was abducted from a barber shop in Harare’s high density suburb of Glen View on Monday morning by some unidentified men, suspected to be State security agents, who were travelling in a white twin cab vehicle with a blurred registration number plate.

Upon abducting Dzamara, the captors reportedly and bizarrely accused him of having stolen a beast before bundling him into their vehicle.

Since his disappearance four days ago, his mobile phone has been switched off and he has not had any contact with his wife Sheffa, family members and friends, and is being held incommunicado even from his lawyers — which is against the tenets of the law.

The emotional Sheffa, who was in the company of her brother-in-law Patson, told the Daily News that she was appealing to the country’s leaders and to the conscience of her husbands’ abductors to “search their humanity” and release him unharmed.

“Please release my husband alive because his children are still young and they still need their father,” the grief-stricken Sheffa pleaded, choking with emotion.

The 32-year-old mother of two said life had been unbearable for the family since her husband’s abduction — particularly since Dzamara was the family’s sole bread winner.

She said she believed that her husband’s abduction was planned because a few days earlier she had spotted two vehicles, an Isuzu and Nissan twin cab, circling her home.

Expounding on her suspicion that the government was behind the abduction, she said, “Authorities once told him one day gava richadambura musungo (we will get you one day)”.

On his part, Tsvangirai savaged Mugabe and the government on Tuesday, accusing them of being behind the brazen, broad-daylight abduction of Dzamara.

Describing the abduction as “morbid” and “callous”, he added that Zimbabweans now “feared for the worst” for Dzamara — who is best known for bravely leading the Occupy Africa Unity Square initiative from the front, which has seen the activist being incarcerated and viciously assaulted by police on several occasions.

 

Comments (20)

Ngwena

zanu pf - 13 March 2015

where are the pics of the siege

blake - 13 March 2015

ZANU-pf hugs are allowed to roam the streets and demonstrate against their own when it fits the leadership. When others wan to show their disapproval of the sate of affirs, they get riot police to thwart it. But here is the kicker, they are the first to shout on top of mountains that Zimbabwe is a democratic state. I am sorry but that is just the most stupid ass portrayal of a country that is anything but democratic. Democratic society my left foot...

tino16 - 13 March 2015

Dzamara -Abduction There is no doubt that this is Mnangagwa's hand-work. This is the man who heads (JOC) Joint Operations Command. He sanctions all operations and receives briefing every morning. This is the same man who led to over turned 2008 vote where Mugabe lost dismally and led a scorch earth campaign to abduct and kill those they known to lead the opposition grass route leadership. Ian Smith used to do the same. Do you remember the late Edison Sithole? He was abducted by Ian Smith's government and most probably his body was dissolved in nitric acid. In 2008, for elections rerun, Zanu-PF government, JOC headed by Mnangagwa, they abducted many people who vanished up this date. There is no much difference between Ian Smith and RG Mugabe's regimes. In fact we are in a worse situation at this point. The Rhodesia Front Government of Ian Smith was stopped by sons and daughters of this country. The Zanu-PF mafia leadership will not stop killing perceived opponents whenever they fill threatened. My country men we have to make a resolve to bring this to an end. Nobody will come to our aid unless we stand up and put a stop to this! These people have no shame at all.

Mbareboy - 13 March 2015

Kidnapping of Dzamara benefits MDC T more than Zanu PF. Now the MDC T is pretending to be really concerned, whilst privately celebrating their chance for the 'massive demos' so much talked about in recent weeks. Don't you think kidnapping Dzamara was an act meant to trigger such demos? So who could have really kidnapped him? Just think.

machakachaka - 14 March 2015

We know where these people who are send to abduct people stay. We know where those police brutalising people why can't we also hit them at knite and abduct them at night the same way they do to people. An eye for an eye. The voice of the oppressed can never be heard without making enough notice. Time is now Zimbabweans Fight back.

Ziziharinanyanga - 14 March 2015

Countrymen we can never join fools in their own game least we are identified with them.Its common sense that these clueless people are down the heels and its a question of time their macabre show would soon be over.we are on the advert of a new era in Zim just hold your guns we would have better things to concentrate on to develop our country together as one and even with the wrong-doers.Sometimes the best way to fight is to be silent and let them think we are fools as much as them as reacting has proven disastrous not only in Zim but throught Africa.we have seen our neighbour Moz in a sanguinary 16 year civil war for nothing at all,Angola also.Is it the Zim we want?There is time for everything but nature is just.

carson macate - 14 March 2015

this recurrent physical repression phenomena apparently justifies involvement of foreign military methods like courting the US Army, legitimately so. ...supposing they agree. Otherwise it's the clearest poke for civil war by Mugabe on Tsvangirai. We know that Mugabe is going, no-matter what. And that a new beginning may come afterwards. I suggest that we recraft the laws, verbose and intent of the cryptic legislation around national sovereignty to allow, at least for Zimbabwe, conditions under which foreign military intervention may be endorsed from approved allies for the sake of the unarmed poor majority citizens. And again, I wonder what it is, material or spiritual, that our brethren in the disciplined forces get from the devil. I wonder, really. We don't seem to see anything where we neighbour them that gives them a societal edge.

maombo david - 14 March 2015

these riot police whom are they representing?do they they fall under zanu pf or the nation of zimbabawe they need to be told theire salaries come from the tax payer money like dzamara,why police in this country are so comfused like this ?do they real know there duties i dont so only one day all this will come to an end god is watching

godlwayo - 20 March 2015

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