MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa on Tuesday labelled an attack on his convoy a day earlier “primitive” as Zanu PF denied responsibility.
Chamisa addressed the attack in Charumbira, Masvingo province, for the first time during a news conference.
The attack by a mob of about 200 placard-waving mobs left five supporters, including a councillor, injured and one of his security vehicles badly damaged.
The MDC Alliance said the mob had been mobilised by Zanu PF and bribed with food to stage a protest against “sanctions”.
“We are here to seek peace and congregate with the local communities. What we got is a lot of panic from the police, a lot of panic from state institutions, and a lot of panic from Zanu PF as an organisation,” Chamisa told reporters in Masvingo.
“I mean what they did yesterday, bringing burning logs to barricade the road, are primitive things. You don’t do such things. It damages and tarnishes the image of the country. We have a country being reduced to stone age engagement. Why can’t you interact with us, why do you want us to interact with stones?”
Five MDC Alliance officials were treated for minor injuries, including ward 5 councillor, Daniel Mberikunashe.
Acting Zanu PF political commissar Patrick Chinamasa said: “Mr Chamisa imposed himself on the Masvingo audience seeking to address them without their consent.
“What I hear happened in Masvingo was that the opposition leader was trying to impose himself to an audience which did not want to listen to him. He had no right to force people to listen to him. He had a right to address people, but only those who were willing to be addressed by him.
“In this case, the information I received is that the villagers did not want to be addressed by him for obvious reasons. If you listen to a mad man, you become part his cast. Our Zanu PF people had a right to refuse to be addressed. It’s their right.”
Chamisa alleged that most of the demonstrators were drunk after being plied with alcohol overnight and then being driven to the location where they blocked his passage.
Zanu PF supporter Nhamoinesu Nemanwa was named as one of the ring leaders that orchestrated the attack.
Chamisa castigated the Zanu PF government for seeking a SADC resolution to remove targeted sanctions imposed by the United States and Britain without dealing with “internal bad governance.”
“The first point for dealing with any kind of conditions that have been put on the country is internal governance. Zanu PF thinks that the issue of sanctions is a complex problem, it’s a very simple one,” Chamisa said.
“You don’t need to a have SADC resolution… you are actually tarnishing SADC by inviting them to an issue which they are unable to unpack and even reverse. In this country if you do not deal with bad governance, you don’t deal with sanctions. Deal with corruption and we will move forward.
“But to be able to deal with that we need a political settlement, an internal political settlement… on how we will be able to return the government to legitimacy, how we return our country to a democratic path and credible elections.
“That way we will be able to move forward and have an inclusive society where everybody is a winner.”
On Tuesday there were further clashes between MDC Alliance activists and Zanu PF supporters in Masvingo which were eventually mediated by the police.
Chamisa laughed off some of the accusations by the Zanu PF mob that he was planning “regime change.”
“Regime change is a constitutional requirement, that’s why elections are held,” he said.
“People want to bastardise and criminalise regime change. Regime change or regime continuity is the sole function of an election, so when people choose to change the regime it is done according to the constitution and according to an election.”
Chamisa suggested the attack on his convoy was an “assassination attempt”, adding: “This shows that even in the run-up to the 2023 election, the leopard has not changed its spots.
“Zanu PF is likely to do what they know best in their DNA, which is violence especially when they know they are not going to win the elections. But tell you what, it doesn’t matter what they do, the writing is on the wall, people are going to win and the people have won.”
The MDC Alliance would “leave no stone unturned” in its rural mobilisation drive, Chamisa said, adding: “Zanu PF appears intent, however, to leave no turn unstoned.”