HARARE - Supporters of former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s People First movement got a taste of the violent nature of Zimbabwean politics last week after the home of one of its followers was burnt down in Murehwa by suspected Zanu PF supporters.
In a statement yesterday, the Centre for Community Development (CCDZ) said the people of Murehwa South in Mashonaland East were living in mortal fear for their lives following the torching of the home of the People First co-ordinator for the area, James Jowa.
Before his home was razed down, Jowa had been accused by Zanu PF supporters in the area of being Gamatox — a Zanu PF term for Mujuru followers — in ominous threats.
“The unknown assailants wrote the message ‘Pasi neGamatox’ (Down with Gamatox), on the walls of the torched homestead. In the past few weeks, CCDZ has witnessed increased political tension and intra-party violence within Zanu PF in Mashonaland East which is considered a stronghold of the People First.
“We strongly condemn these criminal acts and call upon law enforcement agents to carry out thorough investigations and bring the perpetrators of political violence to book.
“We also urge the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to carry out independent investigations to expose such criminal activities,” reads the CCDZ’s statement.
The matter was reported at Murehwa Police Station and recorded as case number RRB2536471.
However, officer commanding Murehwa police Jasper Chizemo refused to shed light on the matter, referring the Daily News to national police spokesperson Charity Charamba whose cellphone was not reachable yesterday.
Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland East, Joel Biggie Matiza — who is also the MP for the area — also referred questions to the police in Murehwa, saying he was not aware of the incident.
“We do not sanction violence against other parties, I am not aware of that. Ask the police they will tell you,” Matiza said.
Following her brutal ouster from the warring post-congress Zanu PF in late 2014, the popular widow of the late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, vowed to challenge President Robert Mugabe or whoever will represent the ruling party in the much-anticipated 2018 presidential elections.
And with Mujuru and other disaffected liberation struggle stalwarts who now operate as the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First making serious efforts to challenge the post-congress Zanu PF ahead of 2018, observers say the political stakes in the country are very high.
The prospects of a grand opposition coalition have also appeared to cause panic in the ruling party, especially in Mashonaland East where Mujuru’s teams are reported to be destabilising the post-congress Zanu PF’s structures, with scores of members jumping ship for People First.
This latest incident of violence also comes as a senior opposition official in Mbare, Antony Shingadeya of the MDC, was last week hospitalised after he was viciously assaulted by members of the terror group Chipangano, who besieged an MDC party meeting in the politically-volatile Harare high-density suburb.
Zanu PF has routinely been accused by opposition parties and non-governmental organisations of unleashing violence and terror against its political opponents ahead of all crucial elections.
In 2008, former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from a presidential run-off after hundreds of his followers were murdered in cold blood following his stunning victory over Mugabe in the first round of that poll.