Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
The burning of a truck belonging to MDC-T in Kuwadzana, Harare, in the early hours of yesterday could be an “inside job” carried out to smear the Government and elicit sympathy from foreign donors, sources close to the investigation of the matter have revealed. The car was burnt after MDC-T youths on Wednesday held an illegal demonstration in the capital targeted against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Pictures circulated by MDC-T officials on social media showed the cab of the white truck burnt, but inexplicably left the centre of the hood inscribed with the name of the party, as well as the plastic grill, barely affected.
Sources close to the investigation told The Herald that this suggested that arsonists could have covered that part with heavy material so that the car could be identified and therefore elicit sympathy for the MDC-T.
The ruling Zanu-PF party said it was not in its interest to carry out acts of violence on a weak opposition that it was bound to defeat again in elections next year.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said police investigations were underway after the incident had been reported at Kuwadzana Police Station around 1am on Wednesday.
“Two unknown people were seen at a car park at Kuwadzana Shopping Centre and immediately after they left the security guard saw the car, an Isuzu single cab; white in colour registration number ADA 1562, catch fire.
“A report was made at ZRP Kuwadzana and police attended the scene and called the Fire Brigade but the vehicle had already been damaged. The value of the car is $10 000.”
She added: “After investigations we will be in the position to ascertain the perpetrators and the motive.”
Interestingly, a crowd sourcing appeal was posted on the site www.justgiving.com , with the appeal: “Can you help me raise 20 000 (British pound sterling) to help the MDC-T Youth Assembly replace their petrol bombed car . . . ”
In an interview yesterday, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu and Youth chairman Happymore Chidziva confirmed the incident and pointed fingers at Zanu-PF.
“I can confirm that our party vehicle was burnt in Kuwadzana late last night or very early this morning,” said Mr Gutu.
“We strongly suspect that our party vehicle was burnt by Zanu-PF thugs who are not happy about the success of the youth demonstration that we held on Wednesday.
“The Zanu-PF regime is paranoid and fascist. They are afraid of the people and this is the main reason why the ZRP always resorts to thuggish and strong arm tactics against all our peaceful demonstrations.”
Chidziva said: “What happened is that our vehicle was burnt during the night and that is what is at stake as of now. And the enemies of our party are well known, that is, ZANU-PF, therefore, we know that it is their hand. It’s really unfortunate that Zanu-PF is now targeting our properties.”
But Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, said MDC-T was trying to play the victim card to divert attention from its waning fortunes.
He said: “The truth of the matter is that it is not in our interest or our character to be unleashing violence on our opponents. We are sick and tired of such accusations. There is no need for a party of our size to be engaging in violence, which will only benefit the opposition and we know that they try to provoke our supporters so that they find an excuse when they lose elections saying there was violence.
“I really think it was an inside job to get attention and a trick by a fracturing party that is facing loss in the next elections. Zanu-PF is focused and ready so they are burning their cars just to get attention.”
Cde Chombo also pointed to the ongoing Presidential Youth Interface Rallies that have been drawing bumper crowds addressed by President Mugabe saying it was testimony that Zanu-PF was popular and did not need to resort to violence.
Accusations of political activists staging acts to elicit sympathy from Western donors are rife and last year in November activist Patson Dzamara was accused of burning his car and later fellow activist Evan Mawarire crowd sourced money for him to buy a new car.