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Political temperature rises

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As political the temperature continues to rise ahead of possible elections next year, Zanu PF youths have run amok invading flea markets, a council boarding house and other council premises in the city in what they have declared is a crusade to “take back what belongs to us”.

There were skirmishes in Mbare Wednesday morning where Zanu PF youths violently ejected more than 400 suspected MDC members operating trading stalls at Bloom Gate flea market situated at the Mbare Musika bus terminus.

The youths have also dislodged people they perceived to be MDC supporters from Carter House, a council boarding house used by travellers at Mbare Musika, where they have since declared ownership by hoisting a Zanu PF flag at the premises.

Apparently, stall holders at the market were taken by surprise and were so overwhelmingly outnumbered they could not resist the onslaught.

After a brief resistance, they were forced to pack their goods and scurry for safety.

Zanu PF Harare provincial youth chairperson Jim Kunaka yesterday declared that no MDC members would be allowed back at the markets that they had taken over, saying the former opposition parties had had their time and it was time Zanu PF reclaimed what had been “stolen” from them.

“This is the end of the road. We have taken what rightfully belongs to us and we will keep on doing that until we repossess everything that is ours,” Kunaka said.

“We don’t want to see them (MDC members) here again and we are on our way to other places which they had taken away from us. From here (Mbare) we are heading to Mukambe market in Machipisa where we are going to repossess what belongs to us. We gave them time to rule and they failed, so now it is time for us to take over,” he said.

Contacted for comment last night police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Andrew Phiri said he was not aware of such skirmishes.

“I have not received that report, try Inspector James Sabau.”

Harare police spokesperson Sabau also said he had not received any report.

“The report has not reached my office,” he said.

Mbare has become a cauldron of political violence and the barometer of political tensions in Zimbabwe. It was the place where a man was killed in violent clashes during constitutional outreach meetings two months ago and where at least two other people died in politically- motivated battles for market stalls.

Only two days ago, Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters fought running battles following the death of Augustine Mahute, a known MDC-T supporter, whose funeral wake Zanu PF activists allegedly hijacked, beating up and chasing away mourners before taking over funeral proceedings – chanting political songs.

Two months ago, the death of another MDC-T activist in Mbare sparked violent clashes between supporters of the rival parties over “ownership” of the funeral.

Youths, allegedly belonging to Zanu PF beat up mourners at the funeral wake and kept vigil while relatives and friends of the deceased sought refuge at a local police station.

Harare city councillors this week brought up the issue of marauding Zanu PF youths invading council property, including Carter House in Mbare, and hoisting their flag as a way to mark their territory.

The councillors said at a full council meeting on Tuesday that Zanu PF youths reportedly led by Onismor Gore ( a council worker and known Zanu PF activist) had occupied an open area in Mbare, earmarked for a big flea market project, Mupedzanhamo Phase 2, for which council has set aside over $700 000.

Council has threatened to take the legal route to evict the rampaging youths from properties around the city.

Retired Captain John Murukai also known as Long Chase, who yesterday claimed to be “the owner and founder” of the Boomgate flea market where perceived MDC supporters were forced out, told NewsDay in an interview at the site yesterday that nothing would stop their “reclamation campaign”.

Murukai said the city council had failed to comply with a 1999 High Court order that gave him and Zanu PF members the right to trade at the place and the youths had no option but to chase away existing tenants and take over the market to give stalls to Zanu PF supporters.

Kunaka and Murukai accused the MDC-T dominated council of sabotage, corruption and using numerical advantage in council for their benefit.

“We have to use pressure if the project to give back to the people who fought for this country is to succeed,” said Murukai, who claims to run an organisation which supports people that were maimed during the liberation struggle called “Fallen Heroes Zimbabwe Trust”.

Kunaka is the shadow Zanu PF councillor for Mbare while Murukai is a retired army captain and a war veteran.

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