Fresh violence shakes Harare

HARARE – Deadly violence rocked Harare once
again yesterday, as police fought running
battles with supposed rioting vendors in the
capital city’s central business district —
amid stunning claims that the troublemakers
in fact belonged to a faction of President
Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF party.
To add to the drama and intrigue, fearless
National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz)
leader, Stendrick Zvorwadza, told the Daily
News that street traders had “absolutely
nothing to do” with the mayhem — pointedly
fingering Zanu PF supporters as being behind
the chaos.
Pressure group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
(CIZC) were among many other organisations
which also claimed that the “rioters” were
Zanu PF youths who were being allegedly
used by ruling party bigwigs to create
confusion in the country as the former
liberation movement’s factional and
succession wars continue to escalate.
Police fired teargas indiscriminately, forcing
many shops in central Harare to close as they
battled the shadowy gangs yesterday that
some Zanu PF insiders claimed were members
of “a successionist faction” — code for
supporters of Vice President Emmerson
Mnangagwa — that is allegedly working to
oust Mugabe from power before his current
term ends in 2018.
“Deviously, these successionist thugs were
claiming to be vendors protesting against
harassment by municipal authorities. They
revealingly attacked Choppies Supermarket
(partly owned by Vice President Phelekezela
Mphoko) in their failing bid to advance their
factional interests,” a Zanu PF bigwig
opposed to Mnangagwa said.
What raised eyebrows further was the fact
that Navuz offices were also bizarrely
attacked by the rioters.
“It took the police more than one-and-a-
half hours to come from Harare Central Police
Station to stop the violence that Zanu PF
was executing. These people are not in any
way democracy groups, they are Zanu PF
people settling their factional scores.
“But surprisingly, when people are
protesting peacefully for real rights, the
police swiftly bring guns and batons to
attack them.
“They must stop being partisan and stop
being an extension of Zanu PF militia,” a
miffed Zvorwadza thundered.
However, Zanu PF youth chairperson
Kudzanai Chipanga distanced the ruling
party from the disturbances, instead
accusing the MDC of unleashing the rioters.
“These are not Zanu PF people, they are MDC
people according to reports we are getting
from the public. We don’t know them in Zanu
PF.
“We are getting reports that these people
were being beaten by MDC because they
refused to join their party and we want to
appeal to the MDC to emulate us in coming up
with people-oriented programmes, as opposed
to coercing them,” Chipanga said
confusingly.
The violent clashes caused most shops around
Nelson Mandela Avenue, Inez Terrace and
Angwa Street to temporarily close, as tear
gas filled the air — disrupting both traffic
and business in the city centre.
The disturbances took place as the High
Court was hearing an application by
democracy groups who are seeking to have
Section 27 of the draconian Public Order and
Security Act (Posa) declared
unconstitutional, which police have routinely
used to frustrate and ban protests.
On his part, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu
told the Daily News that all the fingers were
pointing at “a divided and cornered Zanu PF”
as being behind the protests, in its desperate
bid to stoke tensions and justify the
enforcement of Posa.
“Zanu PF is a terrorist organisation. They
are capable of doing anything. As we have
stated before, Zanu PF thugs and hooligans
are masquerading as police officers, beating
and torturing pro-democracy activists.
“It is quite possible that the cornered and
paranoid Zanu PF regime could have stage-
managed the vendor protests in order to
spread ala