THE government yesterday said the Nelson Chamisa- led MDC must stop inciting its supporters to engage in violent demonstrations, adding the police will descend heavily on hooligans.
The warning by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration follows Saturday’s running battles between the police and MDC youths after cops had raided the residence of the main opposition party’s national vice chairperson Job “Wiwa” Sikhala.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said violence was a retrogressive way of resolving political problems.
“Violence doesn’t solve anything, it destroys our country. The only solution is to talk and work together, unity is important for our country’s development.
“Opposition leaders who are pushing youths to do this must know that the role of leaders is promote love, unity, peace and harmony. It is unfortunate that there are some leaders who are sponsoring youths to engage in violence, which is not good for our country,” Mutsvangwa said.
The minister called on the country’s biggest opposition political outfit to desist from causing divisions among Zimbabweans.
“They must respect other people’s property and destroying property is not the solution, it will cause more problems.
“The mandate of the police is to protect the peoples of this country; they will continue to do their mandate. The opposition must respect the police,” she said further.
Permanent secretary in Mutsvangwa’s ministry, Nick Mangwana weighed in, slamming the MDC youths for allegedly smashing a Zupco bus during the Saturday running battles in St Mary’s.
“Zupco buses are public property bought using public money and used by the commuting public. Vandalising the buses is not a legitimate political expression, but barbaric criminality.
“The public should express its revulsion against these barbaric acts. Lawlessness will not help this country to overcome its challenges. Zimbabwe needs stability to recover economically.
“The law will take its course against those who engage in wanton destruction of property and acts of anarchy,” Mangwana warned.
Sikhala claimed that the skirmishes that engulfed his constituency had been triggered by police when they stormed his home early Saturday morning demanding that he accompanies them to St Marys Police Station, to meet the officer-in-charge there.
While covering the story, the Daily News on Sunday crew witnessed more than four hours of ugly clashes in the area — amid further chaos near Huruyadzo Shopping Centre, which is also in St Mary’s.
Many residents who were going about their everyday business were caught by surprise by the chaos, while others who were waiting for transport to Harare were left stranded as police fired teargas at everyone indiscriminately.
The determined MDC youths gathered an assortment of weapons, including stones, and fought back against the police tenaciously.
Some shops at Huruyadzo and Zengeza 2 closed as police ran amok, beating all and sundry, and firing teargas — disrupting both traffic and business.
Police blamed the MDC youths for the violence, which saw them arresting at least 11 people.
“The MDC youths were burning tyres and interfering with the smooth flow of traffic in the suburbs.
“The youths went on to shatter a Zupco bus windscreen, while some passengers were attacked — with some losing their cellphones,” police said.
“Police moved in and restored order in the area. Eleven suspects have since been arrested and are in custody.”
But the MDC blamed the government for treating it like “a terrorist organisation”.
The MDC regards the siege in St Mary’s, and the incessant harassment of party leaders as needless persecution.
“It is the people who are truly sovereign and terror tactics will not work. State-sanctioned violence will not stop an idea whose time has come,” MDC spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.