Police on Wednesday moved swiftly and stopped a protest march organised by a local youth pressure group to force war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda out of Masvingo.
Two leaders of the pressure group, Community Tolerance for Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad), were briefly detained and released without charge.
NewsDay witnessed Cotrad programmes manager Brighton Ramusi and Gamuchirai Mukura, the coordinator, picked up by the police at Masvingo Civic Centre where they were mobilising other youths to join the march on Wednesday morning.
“We will not bow down. We will plan another day for the march,” said a defiant Ramusi soon after their release.
“We will not be intimidated by the police because ours is a genuine cause. We are the voice of the voiceless villagers who are being terrorised by Jabulani Sibanda. We are just surprised at his interest in Masvingo and not any other province, like Matabeleland where he comes from.”
Masvingo police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake could not be reached for comment over the arrests as he was reportedly attending a meeting.
The youths accused Sibanda of terrorising villagers and inciting violence against suspected MDC-T supporters.
Sibanda, who was in Harare on Thursday, said he would return soon to Masvingo and vowed to stay put in the province.
The war veterans’ leader has repeatedly defied attempts by the Zanu PF provincial executive to have him ejected, claiming he was carrying out national duty.
Zanu PF leaders in Masvingo have accused Sibanda of doing “more harm than good” to the former ruling party, as he was allegedly fuelling internal power struggles within the party provincial structures.
Two days before the planned march, Sibanda, who has been in Masvingo for over a year under a Zanu PF campaign programme dubbed “Ngatibudirane Pachena”, scoffed at the threats to kick him out of the province.