POLICE in Manicaland and Gutu are shying away from arresting Mutare Central Zanu PF candidate Esau Mupfumi and Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip Pupurai Togarepi over incidents of violence against Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters in the two constituencies.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has failed to arrest a single suspect over the public violence cases that happened in broad daylight in the two areas.
Police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi on Thursday this week told The NewsHawks that he had not been briefed about the violence cases.
“I am currently driving to Kadoma and am not aware of the matters. I will need to first check with the police commanders in those provinces to ascertain what happened,” he said.
In Mutare, on 20 July, CCC Mutare Central candidate and former mayor of the city, Brian James, opened a case of public violence after the brutal assault of dozens of opposition supporters.
The CCC supporters were ambushed during a door-to-door campaign by ruling party goons.
One of the opposition supporters suffered a broken limb during the skirmishes while several others were left with injuries of varying degree.
A report of public violence was filed at Sakubva Police Station under case number RRB 5603622 on the same day.
However, the police are yet to arrest Mupfumi or his supporters.
Two days later on 22 July, another report was made against Mupfumi over allegations that he organised thugs to disrupt the opposition party’s constituency launch that was supposed to be held at an open space that is 20 metres from Sakubva Police Station.
The event had been cleared by the police. No arrests were made.
CCC members say the Mutare businessman was spotted dropping off the thugs with his vehicle before they caused commotion that led to the event being abandoned.
James told The NewsHawks that the developments were unacceptable.
“It is unfortunate that my opponent has resorted to violence and, although we have made several reports, the police continue to say they are still investigating. When you make a police report, they ask you who your suspect is. When you tell them and provide reasonable grounds for the suspicions, the police must arrest that person.
“However, in the case of my opponent, that has not happened. One of my supporters suffered a broken limb. It’s unacceptable,” he said.
Sitting Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese told The NewsHawks that the Zanu PF violence is worsening.
“Where is the democracy now if one person known in the society is causing violence but walking scot free? A whole constituency campaign launch was abandoned because of the violence and police did nothing despite being 20 metres away. It is worrying,” he said.
In Gutu, on 10 July, the CCC reported that Togarepi accompanied by Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) activists, was seen marshalling violence against CCC supporters gathered for a party rally at Mawungwa Business Centre in Gutu South.
The violence saw an aspiring ward 25 CCC councillor, Martin Muremba and four youths being abducted and kept in captivity for six hours.
They were severely assaulted and had their phones stolen while Muremba said he lost US$200 in the process.
Gutu police led by Mawungwa Officer-in-Charge Chief Inspector Cames Myambo reportedly refused to take their reports and chased the complainants out of the police post at Mawungwa.
The assaulted youths sustained injuries inflicted all over their bodies.
CCC Gutu cluster district elections officer Lloyd Mupfudze told The NewsHawks that Togarepi is yet to be arrested and locals are unhappy.
“He has not been arrested and the victims are now worried that justice will never take place on the issue,” he said.
Mupfudze has since written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission reporting that the body must charge Togarepi for violating the electoral code of conduct for political parties which emphasises the need to uphold peaceful campaigns.
The code applies to all election candidates. Togarepi is the Zanu PF candidate for Gutu West constituency and current legislator for the area.
Mupfudze’s electoral petition against the lawmaker was addressed to Zec’s Gutu district elections officer, Augustine Musasa.
Part of the petition reads: “We are writing to express our grave concern about violence and intimidation targeted at Citizens Coalition for Change members who were lawfully gathering at Mawungwa Business Centre in Gutu South constituency for a Campaign Launch on the 7th of July 2023.
“We are also gravely concerned by the reported torture of CCC council candidate for ward 25 Martin Muremba and four others following their alleged abduction at Mawungwa Business Centre on Friday, 7 July 2023 early morning after they attempted to attend the gathering mentioned above.”
While Mupfumi could not be reached for comment, as reported by The NewsHawks last week, Togarepi denied that he committed any violence.
“It is all lies. It was actually the CCC which brought people from Masvingo to cause violence,” he said.