GUNSHOTS were heard in Bikita while teargas canisters were fired in Chiredzi’s residential areas as Zanu PF and police tried to stop opposition CCC leader Nelson Chamisa from addressing his supporters in Masvingo province this week.
MORRIS BISHI IN MASVINGO
Two rallies, one in Chiredzi and the other in Chivi, were banned by the police.
The Citizens’ Coalition for Change leader managed to address only three rallies in Chikombedzi, Zaka and Bikita. Enroute to Chikombedzi on Thursday morning, Chamisa managed to hold private meetings with traditional leaders in Chilonga, assuring them that after winning the 23 August general elections his government will protect their land rights by handing out title deeds to their land.
Over 12 000 families in Chilonga are facing eviction after the government allowed a Kwekwe-based dairy company, Dendairy, to set up a lucerne farming project which will leave the indigenous Shangani community without land.
Addressing his supporters at a private residence at Chikombedzi Growth Point after police banned an open meeting citing a government programme meant for the official opening of a clinic at Headache, Chamisa said he was saddened by the extreme under-development in Chiredzi South in a country which gained Independence in 1980.
He also said there is a need for people in Chilonga to be given security of tenure and not to prioritise private companies.
On Thursday morning while opposition supporters were waiting for Chamisa at Baradzanwa Shops in Ward 7 of Bikita South, Zanu PF members led by aspiring member of Parliament for Bikita South Energy Mutodi (pictured) fired two gunshots to the gathered opposition supporters, sending people scurrying for cover.
Mutodi confirmed to The NewsHawks that his security team fired a shot at Baradzanwa on Thursday, but said it was after one of his cars was attacked with stones by CCC supporters at the business centre.
He however said he will not file a police report against the people who damaged his car, saying the incident should be solved politically.
“A shot cannot be fired where there is peace. I can confirm that it was fired not by me but my security team as self-defence after being attacked by CCC supporters. One of my cars was attacked and l went there to see for myself. A few minutes after my arrival, CCC supporters started to throw stones at us, that is when a warning shot was fired in the air. This happened when we were going to address a meeting in ward 8 near the CCC venue for the rally,” said Mutodi.
On Wednesday in Chiredzi, police responded to a notification of a rally by the CCC by citing a government programme which was in Chiredzi North and banned the rally hours after people had gathered at Tshovani Stadium.
A toddler was rushed to hospital after police fired teargas to disperse the opposition supporters.
Senior CCC cluster leader in Chiredzi Mucharairwa Mugidho told The NewsHawks that police denied her party permission to hold a rally at Tshovani Stadium on Wednesday, saying there was a ceremony for the official opening of a clinic in Chiredzi North constituency.
She also said police fired teargas in Tshovani township, which also affected people who were minding their own business in their homesteads, with one child reportedly hospitalised as a result.
“It is clear that we are now not allowed to campaign although we are drawing closer to general elections. Zanu PF is holding meetings without police clearance. They responded to our letter, saying they will not have manpower to cover our meeting but, surprisingly, hundreds of police officers turned up to disperse our supporters. This is a clear indication that police are working together with Zanu PF to close our campaign space,” said Mugidho.
CCC aspiring candidate for Zaka Central Peter Imbayarwo said police manned all roads leading to Jerera on Thursday morning, instructing all passengers in vehicles to disembark and walk to Jerera.
He said Chamisa addressed the Jerera rally for only 10 minutes before police said time was up — despite the party having booked the rally from 9am to 4pm.
Imbayarwo added that Zanu PF called for meetings at all ward centres in Zaka district on the same day of the rally where village heads were advised to bring all their people so that their names can be written down for food aid and farming inputs.
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Rabson Mavenyengwa said his party does not have powers to control the operations of the police.
He dismissed allegations that members of his party disturbed a CCC rally in Bikita, saying his members acted in self-defence after being provoked by CCC supporters.
“As the ruling party, all our meetings are authorised by the police and l don’t know why CCC should be treated differently. They should deal with the police and we had no power to influence the police. On the Bikita issue, l was informed that our aspiring candidate was being attacked and l called the police. We are a peace-loving party, we always urge our members to be peaceful,” said Mavenyengwa.