MUTOKO/MUREHWA – About 500 Zanu PF youths yesterday invaded the venue of MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s rally at Mutoko centre, scaring away people who had wanted to attend.
Report by Staff Reporter
Tsvangirai, however, managed to address small crowds of between 500 and 2 000 at Mutoko centre and in Murehwa, advising supporters to go ahead and wear the Zanu PF regalia for their safety, but to exercise their free choice inside the ballot box.
MDC-T provincial secretary for information and publicity for Mashonaland East Graham Nyahada said the Zanu PF youths went to the venue in the morning and ordered people away using a loudspeaker.
The youths also forced suspected MDC-T supporters to take and wear Zanu PF regalia.
“The venue was invaded as early as 6am by Zanu PF supporters and I had to call the police who took three hours to respond and I ended up going to the station personally,” Nyahada said.
”They (Zanu PF activists) used a loudhailer to warn people against attending our rally, tore our posters and broadcast derogatory statements denouncing Tsvangirai. The situation only calmed down when the police arrived. But still, they had to bring four more truckloads of police reinforcements to manage the situation.”
The NewsDay crew observed Zanu PF supporters clad in their full party regalia, singing and dancing, at different strategic points, as close as 50 metres from the MDC-T rally venue where a crowd numbering about 500 had gathered. MDC-T campaign posters had been pulled down and torn while at some places President Robert Mugabe’s posters were put up on top of those of Tsvangirai.
Before Tsvangirai arrived at the venue, MDC-T House of Assembly candidate for Marondera East Tracy Mutinhiri prayed with the party supporters asking God to deliver Zimbabwe from the bondage of Mugabe.
“We ask God to deliver us just as He delivered the children of Israel from Egypt from the bondage of this oppressor,” Mutinhiri said.
Tsvangirai hailed the women who braved the Zanu PF intimidation to attend the rally, urging them to take and wear the Zanu PF regalia to avoid victimisation.
“I can see the fear, intimidation and the roasting that you have endured in Mutoko. Just wear their T-shirts, but you know what is deep down your heart,” he said.
Tsvangirai said many people from Mutoko had suffered a lot during the bloody 2008 political poll violence.
“The people of Mutoko took refuge at Harvest House, but your determination today shows you want change. The first thing I will do when I get into power is to summon chiefs and ask them why people were tortured and treated like animals,” he said.
In Murehwa, Tsvangirai addressed about 2 000 people and told them his government would implement the one-man/one-farm policy and also take care of war veterans, civil servants and soldiers.
Commenting on the campaigns in the province, the party’s national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said: “We are excited, we are in this province which is a pinnacle of fear and intimidation. However, we have broken the backbone of violence and intimidation.
“People are scared, but they are clear in terms of their options come election day for they had never understood the meaning of independence and that is what we are trying to make them taste — the apple of freedom and orange of democracy.”
In Kotwa, vendors and shopkeepers were ordered not to sell airtime or food to anybody wearing an MDC-T shirt.