Violence flares up in Mbare

Political violence broke out in Harare’s volatile Mbare high-density suburb where Zanu PF and MDC-T youths fought running battles for the better part of Monday.

The fracas started after alleged Zanu PF activists attacked MDC-T youths whom they found cleaning up rubble at the local office which was destroyed last week.

A mob of youths, numbering about 70, who were chanting Zanu PF slogans, flying the party flag and singing revolutionary songs, swooped on the group of about 10 MDC supporters who were removing rubble from the ruins of their office near Mai Musodzi Hall and allegedly attacked them with rocks, logs, fists and booted feet.

The MDC-T youths were saved from further attacks by police who arrived at the scene and took away seven of the MDC-T supporters.

The Zanu PF mob remained at the scene and set fire to the ruins of the MDC-T office which was still smouldering when a NewsDay team arrived.

The Zanu PF mob, which appeared to be swelling in numbers by the minute, then proceeded to a nearby block of flats where they besieged the MDC-T councillor’s apartment, situated on the top floor of the two-storey building.

They broke the windows and the asbestos roofing of the flat, reducing it to a shell.

The councillor, Paul Gorekore, had apparently already fled when the youths stormed the apartment.

Police provincial spokesperson for Harare, Inspector James Sabau, said last night he had not yet received any reports of violence from Mbare.

He said he could only get reports from there today after which he would be able to give the official police version of what transpired.

“I am yet to get the report from Mbare,” Sabau said. “I don’t have anything as of now. I will only get it tomorrow.”

When our team arrived, the flat had apparently been looted and left bare.

Eyewitnesses said some among the mob had suggested to set the place on fire but were restrained by colleagues who feared the fire would spread to other apartments in the crowded hostel.

When NewsDay arrived at Mbare Police Station later in the day on Monday, the seven MDC-T youths whom the police had earlier “rescued” from the marauding hordes of Zanu PF supporters were still at the police station where their party’s chairman for Ward 3 Shadreck Chiroodza said the police had turned around and arrested the youths, charging them with public violence.

Gorekore was among the seven who by late last night, were still locked up at the police station.

Scores of Zanu PF youths who are apparently spearheading the attacks are based at Carter House, a council property that the political activists have apparently taken over and converted into their base.

A NewsDay crew saw the youths moving in and out of the building and there were reports that two MDC-T youths, Shingi Gorekore and one going by the name Decent, had been “kidnapped” from the councillor’s residence and were being held at Carter House.

Sources in Mbare said Zanu PF activists at Carter House had threatened that this morning the “Zanu PF machinery” would descend on flea markets in Mbare that are said to be occupied by suspected MDC-T supporters.

The atmosphere in Mbare remained tense throughout the day as even commuter omnibus operators fell prey to the violent youths who beat them indiscriminately, especially those that drove their buses past Mai Musodzi Hall, close to the remains of the MDC-T office.

MDC-T provincial secretary Tsaurai Marima said: “Zanu PF are failing to respect us. As we speak people have been badly beaten up in Mbare and three are seriously injured. They have chosen to relive June 27 (2008) but it will come a time when people will be forced to retaliate to protect themselves.”

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