MBERENGWA – A wave of political violence has hit Mberengwa District in the Midlands Province with the resurfacing of Zanu PF campaign bases and the re-emergence of notorious war veterans’ leader Biggie Chitoro.
According to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, eight Zanu PF campaign bases have resurfaced at Chomubhobho, Vanguard Mine, Gwamasaka, Neta, Sarauro,York, Gwengwena and Langeni areas.
Takavafira Zhou, the MDC Mberengwa North parliamentary candidate, was attacked by a group of Zanu PF youths at Gwengwena Business Centre on Thursday and had his vehicle stoned.
“As I am speaking to you, we are at Mberengwa Hospital where we are receiving treatment after an attack by a group of Zanu PF supporters led by war veterans leader Geza Zimi,” Zhou said.
“Chitoro is leading another group which is causing terror here and he operates from a Zanu PF campaign base at Vanguard Mine,” said Zhou, who is also the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president.
The attack was reported at Mberengwa Police Station under RRB number 1831748.
Zhou, who is contesting against Zanu PF’s Tafanana Zhou for the Mberengwa North seat, said he sustained head injuries after being pelted with stones by Zimi’s group during the Thursday attack while another party member Stanford Maturure sustained a deep cut above the right eye.
“My car had its windscreen smashed; they attacked us with stones at Gwengwena Business Centre after holding a rally at Langeni Business Centre. I think they were angry over the large crowd which we addressed,” he said.
In Mberengwa East Constituency on Friday night, the home of MDC ward five organising secretary Godfrey Dzivakwi was burnt down by an alleged group of Zanu PF supporters reportedly led by councillor Bankie.
“They are on a terror campaign here harassing, intimidating people and last night we had a kitchen hut belonging to Dzivakwi burnt down. The matter has been reported at Buchwa Police Station,” Tirivangani-Gadu Matavire, the MDC Mberengwa East District secretary for elections, told the Daily News.
MDC’s Cumming Hove is contesting against Zanu PF’s Makhosini Hlongwane for Mberengwa East parliamentary seat.
In Mberengwa South on Monday, police at Mataga Growth Point nabbed a Zanu PF youth leader Sebastian Shumba for threatening to burn down the homestead of MDC branch chairperson Blessed Mashango in Mushandu village in Garinyama.
“Shumba was going around threatening MDC supporters here and, last week he threatened to burn down my homestead and I immediately reported to Mataga Police Station. We are happy that police responded quickly as they picked him up just a day after we reported the matter,” said Mashango.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed the incidents accusing MDC supporters of provoking Zanu PF supporters.
“What I understand is that in some of these incidents MDC supporters are the ones provoking Zanu PF supporters and when they retaliate violence breaks out. And as for the Gwengwena incident what I am told is that Takavafira Zhou and his group provoked the situation after they accused our parliamentary candidate Tafanana Zhou who is also from the Lemba tribe like Takavafira for not being a really Lemba,”said Gumbo.
Midlands police spokesperson Emmanuel Mahoko said: “I will have to check what’s happening that side.”
Mberengwa District has been a Zanu PF stronghold since independence and every election, war veterans and Zanu PF supporters have been turning it into no go area for MDC supporters.
During his visit to the district last week, Tsvangirai, who addressed large crowds in the district for the first time, called for peaceful campaigns.