Tensions high in Chitungwiza

TENSIONS remained high in Chitungwiza following weekend clashes between police and MDC youths, with hundreds of riot police patrolling the dormitory town, which the opposition party leadership called a campaign of terror and warned that they would not be intimidated.

Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala, who is reportedly being sought by the police in connection with the clashes, went to his rural home following the outbreak of violence on Saturday, but told NewsDay that he would attend a court hearing today for 11 MDC youths that were arrested on Saturday.

The clashes followed a raid by the police on Sikhala’s St Mary’s home early Saturday morning.

When NewsDay visited the town, tension was high with riot police patrolling the streets while opposition youths kept a watchful distance.

MDC deputy president Tendai Biti said the party would not be intimidated despite targeted attacks at the opposition party leadership by security agents and Zanu PF-affiliated pressure groups.

Biti is one of the several MDC senior officials who have been threatened by the shadowy Zimbabwe Citizens Forum, which is linked to Zanu PF, and said it would occupy the homes of MDC leaders Nelson Chamisa and Sikhala in protest over their alleged involvement in the calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The shadowy group blames the MDC leaders for causing the “untold suffering” of millions of Zimbabweans after they allegedly called for the sanctions imposed by the United States.

Biti, a former Finance minister during the inclusive government, said they were expecting “these kind of terror tactics” from Zanu PF, adding that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF were betraying the ethos of the liberation struggle.

“We are in a struggle and a struggle is not a wedding,” he said.

“A struggle is a struggle, so we expect this from Zanu PF because that is what they know, but we are not afraid of them. They can kill us, they can shoot us, they can beat us up, but we will not renege and we will continue prosecuting this struggle.

“They are a very desperate regime and it shows the extent to which Emmerson Mnangagwa and his cronies have debased the liberation struggle and the legacy of the liberation struggle.”

Last week, another Zanu PF-linked group calling itself the Concerned Citizens Movement circulated posters on social media calling for protests at Chamisa’s Gutu rural home, Sikhala’s Chitungwiza home and Biti’s Glen Lorne home.

Yesterday, the movement’s leader, Taurai Kundishaya, said they could not go to the MDC leadership’s homes this weekend as promised after discovering that the opposition party officials wanted to settle “their personal scores” using them.

“They now wanted us to target Sikhala because he is now a threat because of his stance on violence in the MDC,” he claimed, adding that they would, instead, “activate their system” to counter protests by MDC on the streets.

“What we are waiting for now is for them to go on the streets and demonstrate against government that is when we will go to their houses because we know the source of our problems as citizens,” Kundishaya said.

“We want to take over power from these people in the MDC and hand it over to the President. He is the face of the country, so we want to take power to the President and not to these people.

“It will happen anytime soon,” he warned while denying any links with Zanu PF, but confirming their support for Mnangagwa.

“We have nothing to do with politics, but our issue is that when ED promised to build Zimbabwe, Biti said he was going to make sure that Zimbabwe gets nothing. Our reason to go to their houses is that Chamisa said tirikudira jecha musadza (we will spoil ED’s rule). We just want to go to his house to eat what he eats because we know there is no sand in his food. We are just visiting en masse.”

“We are just citizens from different groupings, including churches, women organisations, youth groups, and we had tents donated to us. We have transport donated to us to move around so we are just waiting for the time,” he said.

When the police raided Sikhala’s St Mary’s home, the legislator said he was told by one officer that they had come to picket at the house as promised.

Sikhala said he had identified one of the uniformed police officers as a known Zanu PF activist in the area.

He claimed the arrested youths did nothing wrong, adding that he was harassed by the police officers for no apparent reason, triggering the violence.

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