Violence rocks Parly opening

Violence rocked the official opening of the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe yesterday after suspected Zanu PF youths assaulted a police officer, freelance journalist and scores of people they suspected to be MDC sympathisers.

Harare police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau confirmed the incident and pledged to carry out investigations.

“We are investigating the violence, but we have made no arrests as yet,” he said.

The marauding youths, singing and chanting Zanu PF campaign jingles denigrating MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, drove away anyone suspected to be from the MDC formations from Africa Unity Square, where the public had gathered to witness the colourful event.

Ironically, the incident occurred as President Robert Mugabe inspected the guard of honour and later officially opened Parliament, where he denounced violence.

In June, Parliament Building was nearly turned into a war zone after suspected Zanu PF supporters turned riotous and stormed the august House demanding the public hearing on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill be deferred.

The mob reportedly descended on a woman sporting a red T-shirt, accusing her of being an MDC-T supporter around 10am yesterday. Red is the MDC-T’s official colour.

MDC-T Harare provincial youth spokesperson Maxwell Katsande said 11 party supporters were assaulted, among them Harare City Council chief whip Councillor Victor Chifodya, who was later admitted at Avenues Clinic.

“Eleven MDC supporters were injured and rushed to hospital. Victor Chifodya, who is a councillor, is admitted at Avenues Clinic,” he said.

A police officer was also assaulted after he tried to rescue another woman from the prowling youths.
Several nearby shops were forced to close for fear the violence could degenerate into looting.
Among people severely assaulted was a man said to be another MDC-T councillor.

He sustained a deep cut on the right side of the head and was bleeding profusely. Security agents however whisked him away from the scene and stopped journalists from talking to him or taking pictures.

In most instances police officers on duty reportedly did not take action as the violence raged, after the rowdy youths ignored calls by security agents to shun violence.

In some of the songs, the youths likened Tsvangirai to a dog and accused him of being a sellout.

They were, however, quick to listen to Zanu PF Harare youth chairperson Jim Kunaka whenever he intervened.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe arrived in a black vintage Rolls Royce flanked by immaculately dressed police officers on horseback.

He immediately took to the dais for the national anthem which was accompanied by a gun salute. Four Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopters flew past in diamond formation as the anthem was being sung.

Meanwhile, the rowdy mob reportedly grabbed and tore up 10 copies of NewsDay in the city centre as they marched towards Parliament Building.

Munn Marketing operations manager Nicholas Ncube confirmed the incident yesterday.

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