BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZANU PF’s plot to disrupt MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s ongoing rural outreach programme has been exposed after chats from a ruling party’s WhatsApp group went viral, with members accusing each other of giving the opposition leader unwarranted “free passage” into Mashonaland Central province on Wednesday.
Chamisa’s “meet-the-people” tours in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces have been violently disrupted by Zanu PF supporters who accused him of inviting the West to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Although Zanu PF has distanced itself from the alleged attacks on the opposition leader, including attempts on his life, the latest exposệ seem to confirm its involvement.
In the leaked chats, disgruntled Zanu PF members accused provincial chairperson Kazembe Kazembe, who doubles as Home Affairs minister, of failing to stop Chamisa from addressing his supporters in Mashonaland Central province.
A WhatsApp group member using an Econet line registered under the name Douglas Bhedhemu, who was identified as Comrade Six, accused senior provincial party leaders of wilfully failing to stop Chamisa from entering the province.
This came after Chamisa avoided a roadblock set up for his entourage along the Harare-Rushinga Road and sneaked into the province where addressed opposition supporters in Mt Darwin East early this week.
“What surprises me is that Chamisa went to Rushinga where Comrade (Lazarus) Dokora is vying for provincial chairmanship and there is MP (Tendai) Nyabani… What should we say when we are seeing this, because Chamisa has gone to Rushinga… who summoned him? Cde Dokora, explain this to us. You are the one who called him,” Bhedhemu said.
Party activists suggested that the leadership should have organised musical or sports galas and clean-up campaigns as a way of distracting supporters from attending Chamisa’s rallies.
“What we know is, if MDC is supposed to come, galas and other sporting activities are organised. We know (former Zanu PF commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere would mobilise people to distract them from attending MDC rallies …. why didn’t Dokora take action?
“Even chairman Kazembe Kazembe, where were you when MDC came into your province and you failed to mobilise the youth, even to pick papers? You were outdone by Masvingo province which successfully blocked Chamisa from holding his meetings.”
A Zanu PF central committee report released at the party’s national annual conference last week revealed that the ruling party was worried about Chamisa’s penetration of rural areas.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zanu PF acting spokesperson Michael Bimha said he was yet to be shown the WhatsApp messages and insisted that Zanu PF did not condone violence.
“We do not have a party position that condones violence against Chamisa or any other person,” Bimha said.
“That Chamisa is holding rallies is not important to Zanu PF. I haven’t yet seen the WhatsApp messages you are talking about.”
Nyabani could neither deny nor confirm the Whatsapp chats when NewsDay Weekender contacted him for comment.
“Why should I have blocked Chamisa?” he asked.
“This is a free country where everyone has the right to travel wherever he wishes to. Does he (Chamisa) need a passport to travel to Rushinga? Chamisa is none of my business. Mash Central is a Zanu PF stronghold and Chamisa has no chance of winning. That is why I do not care about his movements.”
Following the heated verbal exchange among Zanu PF supporters, violence broke out in the province yesterday as party activists barred opposition supporters from attending Chamisa’s rallies in Shamva, Mvurwi and Muzarabani.
The MDC Alliance claimed that several villagers in the three districts, who were suspected to be opposition supporters, were arrested and later released without charge.
Chamisa tweeted to confirm the intimidation of his supporters.
“Intense terror and intimidation. Great meetings in Shamva, Mvurwi and Muzarabani! These areas turned into a warzone as roads were barricaded. Village heads, villagers targeted and victimised just on mere suspicion that they had attended our community interface meetings. Zim must be free,” he tweeted
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Gift Siziba said violent attacks on party supporters escalated after Chamisa’s provincial
“We are adhering to all the COVID-19 protocols and we are not addressing more than 100 people,” Siziba said.
“But villagers are getting arrested by the police. Zanu PF is unleashing terror on our supporters who have remained restrained but they are being arrested instead. We have had deliberate delays at roadblocks. Some of our members were arrested and detained and released without charge which all amounts to human rights violations.”
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he had not yet received reports of the alleged arrest of opposition party members.
- Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya