Hundreds of Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters yesterday turned Harare South into a “war zone” as they violently clashed after ruling party activists attempted to disrupt the latter’s rally in Hopley suburb, leaving scores of people
injured, two of them critically, NewsDay has established.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
For at least six hours since 9am, rival camps fought each other with stones, sticks, bricks, bows and arrows, and various other objects.
Zanu PF Harare provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe said he was away attending a funeral.
“I just heard the rumour,” Mashayamombe told NewsDay.
Although, national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was yet to be informed about the incident, the MDC-T claimed that 13 of its supporters were injured together with an unknown number of Zanu PF supporters.
The rally was expected to be addressed by the MDC-T provincial leadership.
Police had to use teargas to douse the flames that were stoked after Zanu PF supporters reportedly mobilised and disrupted the MDC-T rally in one of Harare’s most densely-populated suburbs dominated by the Zanu PF party.
The 13 were reportedly taken to a private hospital where two of them –a seven-year-old child and a pregnant woman were said to be in critical condition.
Hundreds of Hopley residents were also caught up in the fracas when police moved around reportedly throwing teargas canisters in the suburb to disperse the feuding camps.
When NewsDay visited the area, small groups of people wielding different kinds of weapons could be seen milling the area while armed police monitored the events.
MDC-T Harare provincial youth secretary Denford Ngadziore said: “We were preparing the venue of our provincial rally at Kazembe Primary School which was going to be addressed by the provincial leadership at around 8am today (yesterday) when Zanu PF supporters stormed the area and pulled down our flag.”
Ngadziore added: “There was resistance as we felt it was not proper for Zanu PF to come and disrupt a legal gathering which had been cleared by police. However, following a standoff, calmness finally prevailed after riot police arrived.”
He said as they were making a report to the police of the disturbances, two UD trucks and several commuter omnibuses with Zanu PF supporters from other areas arrived, re-igniting the fighting.
MDC-T Harare youth organising secretary Lovejoy Chitengu, however, accused police of “folding their hands” when Zanu PF supporters were busy causing havoc in the area.
“Zanu PF youths were indiscriminately assaulting people even those that had nothing to do with our meeting. This all happened in the presence of police who, however, chose not to act only to fire tear gasses indiscriminately at residents,” Chitengu said.
Residents in Hopley expressed disgust at yesterday’s incident saying political violence was exposing their families to unwarranted attack.
“There were all sorts of weapons from bows and arrows, catapults, bricks and stones. People retreated towards our homes and their opponents pursued them. At the end, we were caught in the cross fire,” a Hopley resident Edna Nduna said.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said his party was disappointed by the disturbances.
“A group of Zanu PF thugs attacked our supporters using stones, sticks and iron bars. The Zanu PF thugs didn’t want the MDC-T to hold a rally at Hopley regardless of the fact that the rally had been authorised by the police in the usual manner,” Gutu said.
“As the MDC-T, we would like to register our extreme disappointment with the unlawful and criminal attack on our supporters by some Zanu PF thugs.”