Felex Share Senior Reporter
MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday watched disinterestedly as his personal henchmen assaulted and then sprayed an as yet unidentified chemical into the eyes of one of the opposition coalition’s National Assembly candidates for Gutu Central constituency.
Mr Crispa Musoni (MDC-T), one of two candidates the alliance fielded in the constituency race, had tried to seek audience with Mr Chamisa in a bid to get clarity as to why the opposition leader had allowed two people from the same camp to contest the seat.
But instead of addressing the issue, Mr Chamisa allowed his goons to attack the 76-year-old man and spray a chemical in his eyes.
The elderly Mr Musoni thought he had won the right to represent the MDC Alliance in the elections, but Mr Chamisa on Wednesday made an about-turn and told opposition party supporters that Mr Ernest Mandigo was his preferred candidate while addressing a rally at Maungwa Business Centre in Gutu.
Mr Mandigo is from the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats, one of seven fringe political parties with whom Mr Chamisa entered into a coalition.
The alliance has fielded more than one candidate in at least 14 constituencies because of disagreements and infighting. On Wednesday,
Mr Chamisa told supporters in Gutu that he was now backing Mr Mandigo over Mr Musoni, and the latter sought an explanation on this turn fortunes.
Mr Chamisa refused to entertain Mr Musoni at the rally, and after the event the apiring MP drove his car behind the opposition leader’s in the hope of getting his attention.
On reaching Chivhu with Mr Musoni behind them, Mr Chamisa and his acolytes stopped their vehicles and accosted the National Assembly candidate, who has been a member of the oppsosition since its formation in 1999.
Mr Chamisa’s security details dragged Mr Musoni out of his vehicle and assaulted him. They sprayed a substance in his eyes, threw his car keys into a thicket and left the opposition candidate for dead.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday, Mr Musoni said Mr Chamisa ordered the attack.
“Mandigo was brought to us by the national leadership led by Morgen Komichi just under three months ago to harvest where he did not sow,” he said.
“We resisted this move before the Nomination Court even sat, but surprisingly his papers were signed at the national level.The province refused to sign, saying we do not know him and therefore can’t work with.
“We both submitted our papers and continued campaigning. I only learnt that he had been made the official candidate ahead of me during the rally. After finishing addressing the rally, Mr Chamisa called Mr Mandigo to the podium and introduced him to the electorate. He dressed me down and I was shocked,” said Mr Musoni.
“Being someone who has worked in that area for long and has high respect for the people there, I chose to do the wise thing, that is asking for an audience with the president through the party leadership. When he (Mr Chamisa) was about to come off the stage, I tried talking to him, but I was pushed away by the aides and they drove away, but because there was traffic, they could not speed off.”
Mr Musoni said he went into his car and decided to follow Mr Chamisa who was heading to Harare.
“The timing of this was painful and that is the reason why I wanted an audience with him,” he said. “I only wanted an explanation and I thought maybe he had some words and reasons that would ease my emotions.
“When we got to the T-junction in Chivhu, Mr Chamisa’s crew stopped and blocked me. The other cars which were behind then arrived and I was encircled before they shouted at me saying I was mad. I told them I was not mad, but wanted to see the president,” narrated a distraught Mr Musoni.
“We stopped for long, arguing and I thought he would come out, but instead he watched the drama while seated in his car. Suddenly, they manhandled me and sprayed some liquid into my eyes and I became blind.”
Mr Musoni said the aides took away his car keys and threw them away.
“I have not found the keys since then,” he said. “They then sped off and it took me about two hours to partially clear my eyes and I was crying out for help at the same time.
“I was only helped by a Good Samaritan, an apostle who was travelling with his fellow church members. They took me to the police station, but I told them to take me to hospital first because I did not know the type of chemical which was troubling me.
“At Chivhu hospital, they took close to an hour trying to clean my eyes and later referred me to Harare where I sought further treatment at the Avenues Clinic.”
Mr Musoni was later discharged, but during the interview he seemed to have difficulties opening his eyes.
“During last week’s demonstrations against ZEC, I had tried to talk with the president over the issue, but instead he decided to send someone to talk to me,” he said. “He has been slippery.”
Mr Musoni said by watching aloof while he was being assaulted, Mr Chamisa approved of what was taking place.
“He is one of the people I respected, loved, honoured and worked longest with since the formation of the party,” he said. “He used to come home and I would take them to the fields together with Job Sikhala. I treated them as my sons.
“I didn’t want to discredit his image, but I am hurt. I never knew he was as ruthless as he were yesterday (on Wednesday).”
Mr Musoni said he would take action after getting feedback from the police.
Mr Chamisa’s spokesperson Dr Nkululeko Sibanda yesterday said the actions of the aides were in order as they wanted “to protect the president.”
“They have to do that if there is a security threat to the president,” he said. “You have to realise the issues that have been happening in the country, the bombing and so forth. I wouldn’t be surprised that our security is taking good measures.
“The security is cautious all the time, does what is best. That is within norm and would happen in any party.”