ONE person reportedly died while several others were injured when violence broke out in Chitungwiza on Wednesday night after suspected Zanu PF activists went on the rampage, wantonly assaulting residents and accusing them of supporting the Nelson Chamisa MDC Alliance just a few weeks before elections.
The attack came hot on the heels of a pledge by Zanu PF leadership including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition parties to have peaceful and violent free elections.
Many other residents were left counting their losses after their properties, including houses and vehicles, were vandalised in the now tense Nyatsime area.
When NewsDay arrived at the scene, scores of senior ranking officials from political parties were on the ground, gathering facts of what transpired while several police officers patrolled the area, assuring residents that the situation was now under control.
National police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, confirmed the violence involving Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters.
“Yes, it’s true there was violence between Zanu PF and MDC in Chitungwiza, and we are saying no to violence. Why should people fight?” Charamba asked.
“The President is saying there should be peace all the time and people should respect each other and campaign peacefully without the police. They (people) should be self-regulatory.”
According to residents, Zanu PF activists were on their way to bury a fellow party member at Nyatsime cemetery when they saw a number of MDC Alliance posters around the residential area near the graveyard.
They reportedly asked people, including passers-by, to pull down the posters on walls and stones around the area but there was no co-operation.
The activists, in vehicles and a bus, allegedly went on the rampage, going as far as people’s homes and indiscriminately assaulting everyone in sight.
Riot police was called to quell down the situation.
“I was busy constructing a house when the Zanu PF activists arrived. I was standing on a scaffold and they ordered me down,” said a resident, Back Humbasha.
“I didn’t quite understand what was happening until one of them pushed a drum supporting the scaffold. I fell down and they started assaulting, threatening to kill me.”
Another resident, Kanganwiro Bandamberi, said he lost thousands of dollars’ worth of property to the marauding activists.
Doreen Kashoti, who sustained a swollen cheek, said she was caught by surprise when people stormed her house.
Another elderly woman Henrika Tafirenyika escaped death by a whisker with her two grandchildren when her house was stoned and all windows were shattered. “We had to seek refuge for the night at the next door suburb of St Mary’s since our place was no longer safe and we feared they were going to come back in the middle of the night,” she said.
St Mary’s legislator Unganai Tarusenga said it was still a long way for Zanu PF to change their old ways.
“The violence by Zanu PF activists on MDC Alliance members in Nyatsime is an indication of intolerance that is prevailing in the country, which, if not addressed, will compromise the prospects of peace and negatively influence free participation of people in electoral processes,” he said
However, Zanu PF Harare chairperson, Godwills Masimirembwa blamed MDC-T supporters for provoking ruling party members. “The person who died is actually a Zanu PF member. Violence has been condemned by his Excellency and to every peace loving Zimbabwean this is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Asked whether the Zanu PF youths retaliated when they were allegedly provoked, Masimirembwa retorted: “Well, if you are provoked then what do you do?”