POLITICAL tempers flared in Harare yesterday, as ruling Zanu PF and opposition MDC-T parties accused each other of fuelling the street vendors’ clashes that occurred in the central business district on Tuesday evening.
By Everson Mushava
The clashes resulted in the smashing of windowpanes at the MDC-T’s Harvest House party headquarters, where suspected party youth had sought refuge.
Morgan Tsvangirai’s party claimed the skirmishes were sponsored by Zanu PF Harare provincial youth leader, Godwin Gomwe.
But Zanu PF Harare provincial chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa denied the charge, saying the ruling party hand no hand in the clashes.
“The battle was between the MDC-T thugs and the cellphone traders,” he said.
“Those tricks to blackmail us will not work. Gomwe was nowhere near the violence and had no part in it. The MDC-T has been confiscating the wares of the traders, who then decided to fight back. So where does Zanu PF come in?”
But MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu maintained Zanu PF youth were behind the scuffles.
“It was Gomwe, who sponsored the violence to intimidate the MDC-T ahead of elections. We know and we have evidence to prove that. This will not in any way help them because we are not afraid of Zanu PF in any election,” he said.
“Zanu PF’s culture of violence is well documented and bare for everyone to see. How can the MDC raid wares of the traders who have been its voting constituency since its formation?”
But a vendor involved in the skirmishes said the fights started when they resisted MDC-T youths who were demanding protection fees from them.
“They always come and take away cellphone handsets, claiming they need to be paid protection fees. It was only yesterday (Tuesday) that we decided to resist, forcing them to retreat to their head office, where they often take refuge after raiding us,” the vendor said, declining to be named.
“This has been going on for a long time and we said enough is enough. There was no Zanu PF in the fight. It was MDC-T thugs against the traders.”