HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party claims gunmen abducted one of its supporters in the Headlands area, as large numbers turned out to vote in a referendum which could present a false start to Zimbabwe’s nascent democracy.
But police immediately dismissed the MDC allegation, claiming the party supporter was arrested for petrol bombing a Zanu PF official.
Both the MDC and Zanu PF, the chief political rivals, are supporting the draft constitution but violence has often flared, signalling how the parties are more focussed on an election likely in July where a real contest is expected.
Yesterday’s referendum brought to the fore the mistrust between police and Tsvangirai’s MDC.
Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said: “The first event I want to report on is the arrest or kidnapping or disappearance of our secretary for Headlands who resides in Headlands”.
“Samson Magumise was picked up around 5 am at his homestead by a truck with registration number ABG 7038. There were four armed people in the white truck, one lady three men. In the process of the arrest or kidnapping the wife’s mobile phone was confiscated.
“At the moment, we don’t know where he is. A report has been made at Rusape Police Station by our Manicaland office. At the initial report, Rusape police indicated that they were not aware of this arrest or abduction. But later on they called our information provincial officer Pishai Muchauraya advising him that they knew who had done the arrest but they did not have him in custody,” Biti said.
The development comes less than a month after the horrific death of Christpower Maisiri, son of the MDC organising secretary for Headlands in an inferno.
Biti said tension was high in several other areas.
“We are also concerned about incidents of violence to our members in Mbare, Headlands, Kariba and Bindura,” he said.
But police said Magumuse was not abducted as claimed by Biti.
Chief police spokesperson Charity Charamba said Magumuse was arrested in connection with a petrol bomb attack on an aspiring Zanu PF councillor, William Chapepa in Makoni West Constituency.
Magumuse resides in Headlands while Chapepa was petrol bombed in Makoni West Constituency in ward 12.
Charamba told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that Magumuse is in police custody facing attempted murder and malicious damage to property charges.
Chapepa was allegedly petrol bombed last week and is still in hospital.
“I can confirm we have arrested one man who the MDC were claiming has been abducted in Headlands. He is facing attempted murder charges and malicious damage to property,” said Charamba. – Bridget Mananavire and Xolisani Ncube