THE opposition MDC Alliance and civic society organisations (CSOs) yesterday accused the police of working with Zanu PF to block opposition leader Nelson Chamisa from meeting villagers in Masvingo province.
Chamisa is on a whirlwind tour of Masvingo where he has been meeting villagers, but has been attacked several times by violent Zanu PF activists with the assistance of the police.
The police also teargassed the opposition leader at a private residence in Masvingo town on Monday. Yesterday, police reportedly besieged the Zaka home of MDC Alliance provincial chairman for Masvingo province Senator Misheck Marava and interrogated those present and demanded to search the place.
A truck full of police officers was parked at the Marava homestead for the better part of the day with MDC Alliance also claiming that police in Bikita forced a noon shutdown of Janet Shopping was allegedly passing by.
The MDC Alliance and CSOs said the happenings in Masvingo were confirmation of an unholy alliance between Zanu PF and the police.
But police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was unaware of the allegations made by the MDC Alliance. He urged the opposition party to report to Masvingo police instead of “exaggerating issues on social media”.
“The ZRP is not aware of these allegations,” Nyathi said. “We are only seeing them on social media. The ZRP command in Masvingo has made it clear that if there are any reports, the MDC Alliance must engage the police and verify facts rather than exaggerating some issues on the social media platforms.
“The MDC Alliance is implored to engage the officer commanding Masvingo province and raise their complaints.”
Chamisa yesterday told NewsDay that the police did nothing to protect them from violent Zanu PF activists.
“Honestly, if we are stage-managing riot police barricading a homestead in a village where we were supposed to be meeting community leaders, then we must be great actors, bigger than Hollywood and Bollywood stars,” Chamisa said.
“If we are able to rope in other components of the State to that act, without anyone being arrested, then we are that big.”
Chamisa, however, said despite the violence, his delegation had held meetings in Chivi, Ngundu, Mwenezi, Chingwizi and Rutenga. He said he had been energised by the support the party was receiving from the people.
Chamisa accused Zanu PF of abusing the elderly, poor and hungry villagers to defend the corrupt elite in the ruling party. “It’s sad that they are using Zanu PF youths who will be holding placards yet they don’t even know how to spell the words like sanctions printed on them,” Chamisa said.
“They are using people who can’t even understand the placards they are carrying except that the return on that placard is a food hamper for the day, which is absolute abuse. In fact, it’s criminal, it’s abuse to ride on the poverty of young people and grandmothers in the countryside.”
Chamisa added: “They (Zanu PF) banned us from the national television, they banned us from radio, Parliament, councils, our headquarters and they are trying to ban us from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), but we are determined and there is no going back,” he said.
Responding to Zanu PF politburo member Patrick Chinamasa who claimed Chamisa was imposing himself on people who did not support him, the opposition leader said: “Is Zanu PF now the prefect of communities. Zanu PF is the one that is actually not wanted.
“Zanu PF doesn’t want us to meet with the people, it doesn’t want us to have a conversation. I was not imposing myself, I am not imposing myself, what I am having is a conversation with community leaders, women and youths.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), a grouping of over 300 CSOs yesterday said the violence taking place in Masvingo under the watch of the police was disturbing. CiZC spokesperson Marvellous Kumalo said the attacks on the MDC Alliance activists in the presence of police officers who also were accused of teargassing Chamisa’s team should be condemned.
Zanu PF secretary for security Lovemore Matuke said he was still to get a report on events in Masvingo.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe refused to comment, saying he was yet to receive a report on what had transpired. “I cannot comment before I get a report of what is happening,” Kazembe said.