Soldiers and ZANU PF youths disrupt MDC-T rally in Darwendale
By Lance Guma
MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti was forced to hold a rally in the bush near a graveyard instead of Darwendale Stadium, after soldiers and ZANU PF youths ran amok, bringing down tents, tearing posters and even burning the grass in the area.
Confirming the incident to SW Radio Africa, MDC-T Provincial Organising Secretary for Mashonaland West, Wilson Makanyaire, said the ZANU PF youths were bussed to the venue to intimidate party supporters and disrupt the rally.
Even though the party had secured police clearance to hold the rally inside Darwendale Stadium the soldiers deliberately occupied the venue for several hours, effectively blocking MDC-T supporters from gathering inside.
Biti, who was set to be the main speaker, is quoted by the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper saying his party was not going to watch its supporters being clobbered by ZANU PF militias at the next election. He said: “Next year they are not going to beat us zvokwadi namai Dorothy (I swear by mother Dorothy),” he vowed.
“You have beaten us enough,” Biti is quoted as saying. The Finance Minister in the coalition government said MDC-T supporters were now fearless as they are now in the majority. Instead of cancelling the rally Biti said: “We quickly cleared the bush where they still attempted to burn us after putting the grass around us alight.”
Biti said: “The message we put to people at the rally is that they must expect this kind of intimidation but we will not fear, we will not blink and we will continue pushing.” The MDC-T Secretary General also confirmed that party activists apprehended one ZANU PF youth and handed him over to the police.
SW Radio Africa understands one of the suspected soldiers who started the fire is the one who was caught by the MDC-T supporters and given ‘a slight kicking’ before being handed over to the police. A source present at the rally told us:
“The youths caught the guy and handed him over to the police who took him away. When the minister finished speaking everything was packed away and we all headed to a safehouse nearby as we knew they would be looking for revenge for their soldier who got a slight kicking as he was being arrested by the youth.”
The source added: “Unfortunately two guys did not leave the area fast enough and were arrested and taken to Darwendale police station. They have been charged with grevious bodily harm and went to court today. The battle for Zvimba has started. Next week we are having a rally at Murombedzi which is the capital of Zvimba and we may face more intimidation.”
Reports indicate that co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone had to speak to Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa and State Security Minister Sidney Sekeremayi during the disturbances. Both claimed to be unaware of the disruption to the MDC-T rally.
“But Minister Mnangagwa managed to talk to the military bosses and the soldiers withdrew. It seems there are elements within the ranks of the state organs who take it upon themselves to cause mayhem in the country and we have to root them out. What we want is a free and fair election without violence,” Makone said.
The events of the weekend do not bode well for the hopes of a free and fair election next year. Other reports that say ZANU PF is purchasing 550 vehicles to be deployed countrywide also suggest Mugabe’s party mean business and will seek to secure victory by all means necessary.
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