Fresh violence shakes Harare

HARARE - Deadly violence rocked Harare once again yesterday, as police fought running battles with supposed rioting vendors in the capital city’s central business district — amid stunning claims that the troublemakers in fact belonged to a faction of President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF party.

To add to the drama and intrigue, fearless National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) leader, Stendrick Zvorwadza, told the Daily News that street traders had “absolutely nothing to do” with the mayhem — pointedly fingering Zanu PF supporters as being behind the chaos.

Pressure group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC) were among many other organisations which also claimed that the “rioters” were Zanu PF youths who were being allegedly used by ruling party bigwigs to create confusion in the country as the former liberation movement’s factional and succession wars continue to escalate.

Police fired teargas indiscriminately, forcing many shops in central Harare to close as they battled the shadowy gangs yesterday that some Zanu PF insiders claimed were members of “a successionist faction” — code for supporters of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — that is allegedly working to oust Mugabe from power before his current term ends in 2018.

“Deviously, these successionist thugs were claiming to be vendors protesting against harassment by municipal authorities. They revealingly attacked Choppies Supermarket (partly owned by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko) in their failing bid to advance their factional interests,” a Zanu PF bigwig opposed to Mnangagwa said.

What raised eyebrows further was the fact that Navuz offices were also bizarrely attacked by the rioters.

People flee from tear smoke during skirmishes in Harare's CBD Tuesday. Pic: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

“It took the police more than one-and-a-half hours to come from Harare Central Police Station to stop the violence that Zanu PF was executing. These people are not in any way democracy groups, they are Zanu PF people settling their factional scores.

“But surprisingly, when people are protesting peacefully for real rights, the police swiftly bring guns and batons to attack them.

“They must stop being partisan and stop being an extension of Zanu PF militia,” a miffed Zvorwadza thundered.

However, Zanu PF youth chairperson Kudzanai Chipanga distanced the ruling party from the disturbances, instead accusing the MDC of unleashing the rioters.

“These are not Zanu PF people, they are MDC people according to reports we are getting from the public. We don’t know them in Zanu PF.

“We are getting reports that these people were being beaten by MDC because they refused to join their party and we want to appeal to the MDC to emulate us in coming up with people-oriented programmes, as opposed to coercing them,” Chipanga said confusingly.

The violent clashes caused most shops around Nelson Mandela Avenue, Inez Terrace and Angwa Street to temporarily close, as tear gas filled the air — disrupting both traffic and business in the city centre.

The disturbances took place as the High Court was hearing an application by democracy groups who are seeking to have Section 27 of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa) declared unconstitutional, which police have routinely used to frustrate and ban protests.

On his part, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News that all the fingers were pointing at “a divided and cornered Zanu PF” as being behind the protests, in its desperate bid to stoke tensions and justify the enforcement of Posa.

“Zanu PF is a terrorist organisation. They are capable of doing anything. As we have stated before, Zanu PF thugs and hooligans are masquerading as police officers, beating and torturing pro-democracy activists.

“It is quite possible that the cornered and paranoid Zanu PF regime could have stage-managed the vendor protests in order to spread alarm and despondency, so as to justify the draconian clampdown on opposition parties by the State security apparatus.

“The Zanu PF regime is like a wounded buffalo. They are extremely dangerous and ferocious. They can sense that power is slowly but surely slipping out of their grasp and thus they will resort to all forms of thuggery and barbarism in order to hold on to power,” Gutu said.

In a follow-up statement late yesterday, Navuz reiterated that those who were claiming to be vendors and who had rioted were not their members.

“The National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) would like to distance itself from violent clashes that occurred in Harare’s CBD. A group of Zanu PF youths claiming to be vendors caused violent scenes in the CBD and also stoned several buildings.

“These Zanu PF youths were claiming to be angry vendors protesting against the government and shouting slogans such as ‘Vendor Woyee’ which are often used by Navuz members,” the vendors’ union said.

“As Navuz, we view this as one of the ploys by Zanu PF to use their rogue youths to cause violence after which they will abuse their stranglehold on the police and judiciary to institute a series of arbitrary arrests of opposition and civic society activists.

“We would like to reiterate that Navuz is a peaceful organisation and violence has never been our way of resolving issues.

“Rather, our members have been victims of police brutality while protesting peacefully and today’s violent scenes in the capital is one of the many ways through which the regime is seeking to punish our members as well as opposition activists,” the union added.

The orgy of violence also comes as police are under pressure to arrest Zanu PF mobs who left for dead officials belonging to the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) during bloody skirmishes in Guruve on Sunday, in the volatile Mashonaland Central province.

Then, seemingly deranged Zanu PF youths ran amok, embarking on an orgy of political violence targeted at four ZPF bigwigs — including a retired senior military official and former diplomat — and forcing a local school to close on Monday.

The barbaric attacks by axe-wielding ruling party mobs against the ZPF officials also saw property worth tens of thousands of dollars, including two vehicles, being destroyed in the historically volatile Mashonaland Central province — as fears grow that this is a harbinger of worse violence to come in the next few months.

Rights groups and opposition figures who spoke to the Daily News said the gruesome attacks were a clear indication that President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF would increasingly use terror to silence Zimbabwe’s restless populace ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

The weekend’s bloody scenes at Dunaverty Farm, where three ZPF officials are running agricultural operations, left four people hospitalised, including retired brigadier-general and former Zimbabwe ambassador to Mozambique, Agrippa Mutambara.

And as if to rub salt into the injured ZPF officials’ wounds, Mutambara was bizarrely arrested by police together with the other bludgeoned trio, despite nursing bad wounds and having been on the receiving end of the savage attacks by the manic Zanu PF supporters.

Police said they were investigating the violence.

“Police are investigating that matter of public violence in Guruve and we are warning everyone against violence. All parties shouldn’t be involved in violence,” spokesperson Charity Charamba said.

According to the ZPF officials, Mutambara was attacked by the blood-thirsty Zanu PF mobs when he drove to Guruve on Sunday in a desperate bid to try and rescue his colleagues who had won a court interdict on Friday, barring ruling party invaders from running their operations at the farm.

But this was to no avail, as the scores of axe and knobkerrie-wielding Zanu PF supporters who had poured onto Dunaverty Farm, where they sought to chase away Obert Mutasa, Cyril Mureya and Temba Ncube — who are all prominent supporters of former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s fledgling party — went berserk, seemingly intent on taking their victims’ lives.

Comments (5)

It is clear that Zanu could even plunge the country into civil war,its top leaders have nothing to lose,they plundered the resources of this country and built alternative homes abroad,even their children are treated for simple diseases like flue in foreign clinics.Just a couple of weeks ago,Kasukuwere used resources to defend his child against deportation in UK,yet he uses innocent children of poor people to commit all heneous crimes against humanity,while their children are living a life of opulence in foreign lands.These obnoxious activities sponsored by Zanu pf would come to a scratching halt and people like Chipanga would wish they would had been expelled with Mai Majuru.

Gen. Spinola - 28 September 2016

Given the divisions within ZANU PF something that makes Government almost totally dysfunctional and a key factor in the rapidly escalating poverty, hunger and general desperation are all ingredients that could so easily lead to a total break down in law and order and civil war? All I know with certainty is that it just cannot go on like this without some sort of major catastrophe happening. Meantime African leaders, Ian Khama being an exception continue to sit on their backsides doing absolutely nothing to help the suffering people of this country. And where are the voices of organisations such as Amnesty International? Are we about to experience another Rwanda type genocide?

Mbewa - 29 September 2016

I did know that senility can easily be induced from the aged into promising youths like Chipanga . In the midst of such a crisis the goon has the nerve to churn out Zanu pf dogma . Very disappointed.

Amai Mandigona - 29 September 2016

that means the people causing chaos are aliens coz everyone denies them.

kamborokemwana - 29 September 2016

Blame it on the dog of course Its not the zanupf youthez who were denied stands by Kasukuwere -who decided to use the Stands for profit These youthez are fighting against the division in zanu pf obviously being used by factionalism depending on who stands to loose most Yes African leaders are scared Bob except Khama The Namimbian president said we should fight this war ourselves They are oblivious to the fact that we are dealing with satan and his bad angels What do they discuss at SADC summits -I thought to promote peace and trade and whatever Well said genocide and all the survivors will seek refuge in RSA Namibia then they will deal with the aftermath

Naphiri Chisayi - 30 September 2016

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