Zim Journos, MDC MP Beaten Up by Zanu (PF)
Harare, July 23, 2011 – A Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator
and five journalists were Saturday beaten up by hordes of Zanu (PF)
supporters who invaded the Parliament building to disrupt a public hearing
by a parliamentary committee on the Human Rights Bill.
This follows similar disruptions at Mutare’s Queen Hall and Masvingo on
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Bill is part of democratic reforms that Mugabe and
Tsvangirai agreed to in 2008 when they signed a power-sharing agreement.
Zanu (PF) favours elections this year, but Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
Movement of Democratic Change (MDC-T) insists key political reforms must
first be implemented.
Brian Tshuma, an MDC-T legislator for Hwange Central constituency was beaten
up inside the senate chamber where the hearing was taking place while
journalists Levy Mukarati (Financial Gazette), Tsvangirai Mukwazhi (Daily
News), Nqaba Matshazi (The Standard), Aaron Ufumeli (Newsday), John Cassim
(freelance photographer) were also beaten up by the mob.
More journalists from both the State and independent media were also forced
to seek refuge in offices within the parliament building as Zanu (PF)
supporters ran riot.
Most of the assailants were identified as commuter omnibus touts and vendors
from the Harare’s biggest fruit and vegetable market, the Mbare Musika. The
meeting was abandoned as a result of the skirmishes.
Tshuma, a member of the Justice and legal, parliamentary and constitutional
affairs committee, met his fate when Zanu (PF) supporters who packed the
senate chamber for the hearing noticed he had not been singing the national
“Zanu PF supporters accused me of not singing the national anthem when we
were going through the introductory stages of the hearing. They grabbed me
by my tie, my belt and some joined in and the next thing I was shoved
outside the building. Some buttons from my shirt were torn off,” said
“Instead of helping the situation, police shoved me outside the building at
the instigation of the vociferous Zanu (PF) supporters.”
Matshazi also related his experience. “I was also approached by Zanu (PF)
supporters while inside the parliament building who accused me of not
singing the national anthem. I denied that but they insisted on my leaving
the parliament building.”
“Someone came from nowhere and beat me with a fist and more people joined
in. I was grabbed by my jacket and kicked all over. They told me they did
not care about human rights and they do not respect our newspapers which
they said write lies about the country. They insulted me with all sorts of
unprintable words and told me they only cared about President Mugabe and
Levy Mukarati also spoke about his ordeal.
“I was inside parliament for the hearing and was forced to move out when I
noticed the security situation had degenerated,” said Mukarati. “When I was
outside the building, one of the ladies who was inside identified me as
among the journalists who had been inside and that’s when I was mobbed by
more Zanu (PF) supporters who beat me up. I was saved by the police.”
Zanu (PF) supporters were already outside the parliament building as early
as 7am when the public meeting had been set for 10 am.
Some 300 more tried for hours to force their way through the entrance of the
parliament building as they sang and danced in praise of President Mugabe
and in denouncing of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his party.
A dozen anti-riot police watched the situation unfold.
In Mutare war veterans in this eastern border city disrupted a hearing of
the same bill. In Masvingo the hearing ended prematurely after Zanu (PF)
activists also caused mayhem.
Members of the public that had gathered to give their submission started to
question why the bill was read in english instead of using the vernacular
that every can understand.
“The bill was read in English and we did not understand anything, we also do
not understand what is human rights versus criminology,” said one Zanu Pf
Some members of the public were saying that it is not fair for the hearing
to be read without accommodating the deaf.
Amongst members of the crowd was a visually impaired man who said the
purpose of the meeting was not justified as he needed time to read and
comprehend the details of the bill before making an informed contribution.
Commotion started when Zanu (PF) deputy secretary for information and
publicity said the meeting should stop forthwith as there was consensus that
they did not understand the bill.
“This meeting has to stop because everyone here is agreeing that we did not
understand what was read, so we should leave,” said Samuriwo amid a wild
cheers from a group of war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters.
War vets and some Zanu (PF) youth started to sing songs accusing the
Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of leading the committee which was waylaying
The chair was forced to end the meeting prematurely after about 40 minutes
into the proceedings as charging war vets and other Zanu-PF supporters broke
into songs and dancing in front of the 13 delegates from the Parliament.
In an interview after the meeting Mwonzora said they have noted the
submissions that have been made by the people of Mutare.
“Some expressed that they have not been made aware of the bill and some
think that it’s a duplication of the constitution making process and they
want the constitution to be released first.” They were definite submission
that were made and one was that the bill is not supported and there was also
a submission that the investigation of human rights must not only start in
2009 as envisaged by the bill but must go back to pre-colonial time,” said
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