Bulawayo-based Zanu PF supporters on Friday invaded yet another building in the city, Scouts Hall, barring the International House of Prayer Church from holding its services there.
The Zanu PF activists were led by the party’s deputy provincial secretary for transport and welfare, Joseph Tshuma.
Investigations by NewsDay have established that the building belongs to Matabeleland Scouts’ Association.
The leader of the church, only identified as Reverend Malete, has been reportedly linked to Zanu PF.
According to sources, the Matabeleland Scouts’ Association wrote to Malete in March and last Wednesday advising him that the church could no longer use the hall as the scouts wanted to use it for their rehearsals.
“The reason given to the church was that the scouts needed to prepare for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair hence they would be using the hall on Sundays,” said a source.
“Tshuma and other party activists then went to the Scouts Hall and took away the keys from chairman of the association, Donald Ndebele, before locking up the place.
“Tshuma claimed that they were taking over the Scouts Hall as part of the indigenisation programme to provide training bases for youth service programmes,” added the source.
Ndebele declined to comment on the matter yesterday, but Malete confirmed the developments.
“After I had been evicted at short notice from the Scout Hall, I had to seek an alternative venue at schools around the city. However, I failed to find a suitable place,” said Malete.
Tshuma confirmed the development on on Monday, but denied that the takeover was politically motivated. He said he had since returned the keys to the Matabeleland Scouts’ Association, following police intervention.
Tshuma said his party had intervened on humanitarian grounds.
“The church has been congregating there for the past three years and on Friday they were told that they were no longer wanted at the hall. We were negotiating on behalf of the church because it had not been given time to seek alternative premises,” he said.
“No police report was made, I do not know why people would distort such a simple matter.”
Last year, the party seized a foreign-owned building in the city, claiming the owner had fled the country.
Zanu PF supporters have threatened to take over several foreign-owned buildings in the city as part of their party’s indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.