VIOLENCE broke out between Zanu PF and opposition MDC youths in Mbare yesterday, a day after the opposition leader Nelson Chamisa addressed supporters in the volatile suburb.
Three MDC supporters were reportedly arrested while Zanu PF claimed three of its youth leaders were hospitalised after the violent clashes.
Zanu PF district co-ordinating committee secretary for youth affairs, Emmanuel Mahachi, said violence broke out after suspected MDC youths attacked ruling party cadres during a clean-up exercise.
“There was a clean-up campaign and in the process, they passed through a place where some were not happy with the programme. They started throwing stones, attacking them. I was shocked by the reaction,” he alleged.
“We called police to the place and they arrived to calm down the situation. People were injured including the secretary for environment who was leading the programme, secretary for health and one of our youths. They were taken to hospital,” he said.
“A report was made at Matapi Police Station.”
However, MDC youth secretary for Harare province Denford Ngadziore blamed Zanu PF youths for the violence.
“Zanu PF pretended to be mobilising its supporters for a clean-up campaign but later went to the market operated by MDC youths and vandalised property,” Ngadziore said.
“MDC youths went to report the matter at Matapi Police Station but they were detained. We are not surprised by Zanu PF’s actions. We have a duty to stop this now and forever.”
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the skirmishes, but said the details were still sketchy.
“Police are investigating issues said to have happened in Mbare but currently details are not yet clear so we will only be able to shed light in due course,” Nyathi said.
When NewsDay visited Mbare in the afternoon yesterday, MDC youths were being addressed by local legislator Starman Chamisa after the violent clashes.
The MDC youths said the violent clashes started when Zanu PF mobilised for a meeting at their party offices in the area before attacking a building occupied by opposition members where they allegedly pulled down the party flag.
“They came mobilising vendors for a meeting and when they got here, they started throwing stones, destroying the building. People where not happy with their actions and retaliated and they fled the scene. They reinforced and came back and police managed to calm the situation,” one of the MDC youths said.
The opposition party later released a statement saying Zanu PF youths armed with machetes and logs went on the rampage in Mbare, indiscriminately attacking residents.
“The Zanu PF youths (ran) amok and wreaked havoc by attacking residents and dispersing any group of innocent residents going about their business,” deputy party spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said in a statement.
At the time of going to print, MP Chamisa was reportedly holed up in a police station, hiding from the marauding gang who were “baying” for his blood.