A ZANU PF member died following violent clashes that were triggered by alleged opposition CCC space barons at the popular Mupedzanhamo Market in Harare which was also partly burnt by the rioting mob.
Scores of people were left injured during the clashes on Friday sparked by alleged supporters of CCC leader Mr Nelson Chamisa who want to take over the running of Mupedzanhamo in Mbare.
The Zanu-PF member collapsed and died at a city hospital from injuries sustained when he was hit on the head with a wooden stick by suspected CCC supporters.
Police said 13 suspects have been arrested in connection with the skirmishes. When The Herald visited the scene yesterday, armed police with dogs were in the process of quelling the bloody clashes that erupted over control of vending spaces.
Police had to fire teargas to disperse the rogue elements who were burning down stalls and wares of traders.
A fire brigade team was also busy putting out a fire that risked spreading.
Some defiant traders were also observed in cat and mouse chases with the police, in the process disturbing the smooth flow of traffic.
Others had sought refuge in the nearby flats where they were monitoring the situation.
Yet still, other rowdy hooligans were pelting traders and journalists with stones.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the mishap.
“One person is said to have died and we are still conducting investigations. 13 suspects have been arrested with investigations also underway,” he said.
Zanu PF Ward 4 (Mbare) Councillor Martin Matinyanya said the deceased was a Zanu PF member.
“The deceased was hit in the head with a wooden stick by CCC members. He collapsed at a local hospital where he had gone to seek treatment.
“Several other people were also injured some in the head, arms, and legs,” he said.
Clr Matinyanya alleged that the opposition members turned violent last Friday when they started assaulting traders.
“They were demanding cash from the traders and some refused to pay them that is when they became violent and started burning their stalls. The masterminds are CCC and we know them”.
CCC spokesperson Fadzai Mahere and her deputy Gift Ostallos Siziba did not respond to questions sent to them through WhatsApp and SMSes.
Eyewitnesses said the clashes started last Friday night.
“We just woke up on Saturday seeing some of the stalls burnt. They then continued the whole day engaging in running battles with the traders.
“Since then the situation here has been tense. Our plea is for the council to regain control of the market. We just want to work in a peaceful environment,” said Mr Isaac Katsande.
A fast food operator in the area, Mrs Joice Muwirimi, was left counting her losses.
“Since the weekend, I am yet to record any sales. I survive from hand-to-mouth and the situation has been dire here.
“I was just coming every day to check if the situation has normalised, but today it was even scary with riot police chasing away the violent thugs that were burning stalls and wares,” she said.
Another trader, Mrs Emilda Mwanda, was still to come to terms with the situation.
“I am actually still shocked. Some thugs came and burnt stalls leading to the confusion that saw people being pelted with stones.
“Police then came in to restore order, but the clashes were too much that they had to use teargas to disperse the people,” she said.
Mr Anthony Sherede blamed Harare City Council for failing to take control of Mupedzanhamo which has been closed for over a year now forcing traders to seek vending places outside the market and an open area around Rufaro Stadium.
“Mupedzanhamo has been turned into a carpark as space barons fight for control and the local authority appears unable to exert control.
“As the planning authority, it should just instil order once and for all. A soul has been lost, but the city fathers seem to be unfazed,” he said.
Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Innocent Ruwende said the council’s informal sector committee recently made a resolution to regularise some of the unofficial markets, a move that would provide a lasting solution whilst also benefiting the local authority.
“Council is set to construct modern markets for vendors across the city with the planning stages expected to be completed by month end,” Mr Ruwende said.
He said the Small and Medium Enterprises committee recently toured prospective vending sites in Crowborough North, Mufakose, Glen View, and Sunningdale.
“We want to construct proper and modern structures for our people to ensure that when rains come they will be sheltered.
“The planning process must be done starting this month and we hope that by year-end these markets will be finished. We want to do away with the cat-and-mouse games with the vendors,” he said.