Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Government yesterday described as deplorable, incidents of violence that rocked MDC-T Bulawayo offices on Sunday saying it was disturbed by the party’s failure to heed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s calls against political violence.
More than 15 party activists were injured during violent clashes as MDC-T factions battled over the use of the party’s Bulawayo offices. Passerby were also injured as rowdy youths attacked each other with stones, logs, iron bars as factional fights intensified.
Home Affairs and Culture Minister, Dr Obert Mpofu, said the violence was unjustifiable and will not be tolerated. “The Government is seriously disturbed with recent development where people defying the statement by His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) against violence. We’ve been appealing as a Ministry to members of the public, to political parties, but our appeals seem to be falling on deaf ears. The police through their Commissioner General (Tandabantu Matanga) have been issuing statements appealing to political parties to go about their political business without any violence,” said Cde Mpofu. “The latest violence in the MDC-T is deplorable and will not be tolerated no matter the reasons. We are really disturbed that people are even attacking innocent people, destroying property and behaving in a manner that disturbs peace.”
Dr Mpofu said the police are on high alert to respond to incidents of political violence where ever they occur.
“They will deal with the perpetrators in accordance with the laws of this country,” he said.
Yesterday, rival MDC-T factions traded accusations over the responsibility of Sunday’s violence.
MDC-T camps are divided along factions pitting party deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe and acting president Advocate Nelson Chamisa. The party’s national organising secretary, Mr Abednego Bhebhe, who is fighting in Dr Khupe’s corner, accused Bulawayo provincial chairman Mr Gift Banda, and the provincial youth chairman, Councillor Mlandu Ncube, of engineering the violence.
“Some of the characters are very senior people in the party, worse someone like Mlandu is supposed to be the provincial youth chair with his deputy Felix Mhaka, they were the ones who were leading in throwing stones.
“The provincial chairman (Gift Banda) is also seen to be watching, instead of stopping the violence. He knew what was happening,” said Mr Bhebhe.
“We since filed a report with the police. Police advised us that every person should make their individual reports. My case number is IR2214/18. So I simply gave the police names of people I saw causing violence when they asked me whom I thought was causing violence.”
Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Mr Felix Mafa Sibanda shot back accusing the Dr Khupe camp of hiring thugs from South Africa to attack party members.
“The Bulawayo community is highly shocked by despicable violence against innocent citizens and wanton destruction of property by highly charged hired South African thugs by some erstwhile party members,” said Mr Sibanda. “Most of the violence instigators or agitators were strangers from South Africa under the leadership of Mr Chief Ndlovu one the MDC T officials.”
Mr Banda distanced himself from the violence. He accused some characters of dragging his name in the mud.
“We abhor violence and we are going to send a report to Harare on what exactly transpired because at the moment it’s this person saying this while another person is saying that. We need to dig deeper because violence tarnishes the image of our party,” said Mr Banda.
He said party members should also not hold unsanctioned meetings as doing so leaves them vulnerable to abuse. The party’s acting spokesperson Ms Thabitha Khumalo said the party had dispatched a team to investigate the violence.
“The national council resolved that stern action be taken against the instigators of the disturbing incidents of violence if they are found to be party members. The party is concerned with the trend that started with the incident in Buhera and now the similar incident in Bulawayo,” said Ms Khumalo. — @nqotshili