Violence Breaks Out In Zaka

THE MDC has said two of its activists were killed on Tuesday while four others have gone missing after an attack by a suspected Zanu PF militia gang on the opposition party’s offices in Zaka, Masvingo.

 

Several opposition supporters were reportedly in a critical condition after the attack.

MDC Zaka Central MP-elect, Harrison Mudzuri said the MDC activists were attacked by a militia popularly known as Vakomana vehit squad (the hit squad boys), which has been terrorising opposition supporters at Jerera Growth Point, Zaka, since the March 29 elections.

The two late MDC activists, Washington Nyamwa from Ward 19 and Chrison Mbano from Ward 18, were reportedly burnt beyond recognition after the MDC offices at the growth point were allegedly torched by members of the hit squad.

The injured were admitted to the Avenues Clinic in the capital where they were said to be in a critical condition.

Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed there was violence in Jerera, but said he would have more details on it after being briefed by officers on the ground.

“I am waiting for the report and I will comment when I get it,” he said.

According to Mudzuri, the activists were attacked by the hit squad whose members were dressed in riot police and army uniforms.

“The thugs came in a twin cab vehicle that had no number plates with three people in front and 10 others sitting at the back around 12 midnight and demanded that the guards open the office doors,” Mudzuri said. “After the party officials refused to open the doors, the thugs fired gunshots and one of the MDC members, Edson Ngwerume was hit in the chest. Up until now we don’t know where Ngwerume went to and don’t know whether he is alive or dead.”

Mudzuri said the other party member who was guarding the offices was dragged inside and forced to join seven other MDC activists who were asleep.

“They sprinkled petrol around the building and set it alight”, he said. Mudzuri claimed that the same gang attacked villagers in Ward 14 and also beat up Senator Misheck Marava last Friday.

They reportedly went to Ward 15 and assaulted a senior member of the MDC in the area.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, said the attack on MDC offices in Zaka was part of an ongoing violent campaign ahead of the presidential election run-off on June 27.

The MDC claimed that over 50 of its supporters have been killed since the March elections.

“It cannot be a free and fair election when our people continue to be killed, brutalised and maimed,” Chamisa said. “Armed militia have brought the spectre of death in both rural and urban homes, forcing the victors in the last election to flee into the mountains. Teachers have not been spared. They have also been killed and brutalised and most have fled their schools.”

He alleged that Zanu PF militias have barricaded rural roads with impunity while villagers in most rural areas have been forced to attend night vigils where they are threatened with death if they vote for Tsvangirai.

“Villagers cannot move from one village to the other without Zanu PF ‘passes’,” Chamisa alleged.

He appealed to Sadc, the African Union and the international community to take a tough stance against the regime in order to allow the people of Zimbabwe to freely express themselves during the run-off.

In Mashonaland Central, five Zanu PF members were seriously injured during a clash last week with MDC youths in Kodzwa village, Chiweshe.

Twenty-four MDC youths were arrested in connection with the violence, while the injured were admitted at Howard Mission Hospital.

According to sources, the violence was sparked when Zanu PF members reportedly wanted to coerce villagers to attend the party’s night vigil last Wednesday. The move was resisted by the MDC youth resulting in the violence.

The MDC MP-elect for Mazowe Central, Shepherd Mushonga, confirmed the violence, adding that the youths were granted free bail by a Bindura magistrate yesterday.

“The clashes happened between Zanu PF militia and MDC youths last week after the Zanu PF militia were causing unrest to Kodzwa villagers forcing them to attend a meeting as early as 4am,” Mushonga said. “Since there is a 24-hour patrol by MDC youth, the youths who were in the area “coded” other youths informing them of the developments. They soon gathered and confronted Zanu PF militia and told them to leave the villagers alone and a fight started when Zanu PF militia refused to leave.”

Mushonga said police had to be called in to quell the violence. Bvudzijena professed ignorance on the Chiweshe case.

The police spokesman this week failed to supply this newspaper with statistics of the post-election violence and murders saying that they were yet to compile them.

“I don’t have the statistics of the violence that has been going on,” Bvudzijena said. “We haven’t compiled them as yet. However, not many incidents have been recorded and post- election violence reports have been isolated incidents in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Central.

He said he was not in a position to explain how some of the violence and the murders were committed as investigations were still in progress.

By Wongai Zhangazha