NINE people, including Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda and two other councillors, have been arrested in connection with violence that rocked MDC-T provincial offices in the city on Sunday, which left more than 15 people injured. Violent skirmishes that lasted for over two hours broke out as party supporters clashed along factional lines.
MDC-T has been divided along factional lines, pitting party deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe and controversially appointed president Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday said nine people were arrested, but declined to provide their names.
He said investigations were underway.
“Nine suspects have been picked up by the police in connection with violence that occurred over the weekend and they are expected to appear in court soon,” Chief Supt Nyathi said.
A source within the MDC-T said MDC-T provincial chairman, who is also Bulawayo deputy mayor, Clr Banda and two councillors Mlandu Ncube, who is also the youth provincial chairperson and James Sithole, the provincial organising secretary, were among the people who were arrested.
Chief Supt Nyathi said police had not yet established the exact number of people who were injured during the skirmishes.
“I think it can only be after a full scale investigation has been concluded that we will be able to tell how many people were assaulted and those who were injured,” he said.
Chief Supt Nyathi said political party members should take heed of President Mnangagwa’s call to champion peace and tolerance ahead of the forthcoming elections.
“I want to urge members of political organisations to take heed of the message which has been constantly driven home by His Excellency, the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde ED Mnangagwa,” he said.
“The Commissioner-General of Police (Godwin Matanga) also issued a statement last Thursday which was buttressed by the Minister of Home Affairs and Culture (Dr Obert Mpofu) who categorically urged political parties not to resort to any form of violence and promote peace and tolerance in the country.”
Comment could not be obtained from MDC-T officials as some of them were not answering their calls.
Our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday tracked down some victims of the Sunday violence who narrated how the skirmishes started.
Dr Khupe’s personal assistant and driver Mr Witness Dube said youths led by the provincial youth chairperson Clr Ncube pounced on people and started attacking them with stones.
He said he was one of the first people to be attacked after he was ordered to drive away, but refused, knowing that Dr Khupe was inside the offices.
“I couldn’t just drive away because I knew they were targeting Dr Khupe who was supposed to address the meeting,” he said.