A major showdown is looming in the Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial leadership after politburo member and deputy national spokesperson Cain Mathema reportedly urged owners of buildings invaded by party youths in recent weeks to report to the police.
Mathema, who is also Bulawayo Metropolitan governor, reportedly met property owners of foreign descent on Tuesday and called on them to report invasion of their properties, claiming the actions had not been sanctioned by Zanu PF.
Although Mathema yesterday professed ignorance of the alleged meeting, saying: “I do not know of any such meeting,” chairperson of the Hindu Society, Vijay Mehta, said otherwise.
“We went on Tuesday to meet the governor (Mathema) and he encouraged us to take the issue to the police because from his point of view, these invasions are tarnishing the image of Matabeleland and they are not sanctioned by Zanu PF and the government,” Mehta said.
“We reported to the police and are still waiting to hear what they have done.”
Buildings owned by Indians that have been invaded by Zanu PF youths in Bulawayo include Zambesia and Canberra flats. The former ruling party youths have also grabbed Capri Building which houses the “Pizzaghetti” owned by the Di Palma family, who are of Italian origin.
Recently, the youths blocked Khalil Gaibie from evicting tenants occupying his Elons Court apartment complex over late payment of rentals.
The youths later claimed to have taken over the building.
Zanu PF provincial chairperson Isaac Dakamela has continuously maintained property grabs were not sanctioned by his party.
Since last year, Zanu PF youths have invaded several foreign-owned buildings under the guise of the party’s indigenisation policy.
Early this year, Mathema himself pledged to assist party supporters and cross-border traders to occupy any vacant foreign-owned buildings they would have identified in the city.
But last Friday, Mathema made a sudden U-turn and deplored the ongoing invasion of privately-owned buildings by party apparatchiks as illegal and vowed to ensure the perpetrators were prosecuted.
During the meeting with property owners, mainly from the Indian community, Mathema also reportedly pledged to raise the matter at the Zanu PF politburo meeting in Harare on Wednesday.
“In the meeting, a lot of names were raised to be behind the invasions. The names included those of politburo members, and members of the Bulawayo provincial and youth executive,” said a source who attended the meeting.
“One politburo member in particular has reportedly been collecting rentals from the invaded buildings. Mathema promised the Indian community that he would raise the matter at Wednesday’s politburo meeting.
“He said he was hoping the politburo member in question would be present at the meeting, so that they are embarrassed,” the source added.