Zanu-PF has accused opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa of provoking its supporters to attack him and his team by “trying to impose his views and trying to address disinterested Zanu-PF supporters” in Masvingo on Monday.
Chamisa and his team were attacked again yesterday by ruling party supporters, who barricaded roads to deny his convoy access to a local village.
It is alleged that the ruling party supporters, who were chanting slogans, were accompanied by the police.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare, Zanu-PF acting commissar Patrick Chinamasa said Chamisa, who is currently undertaking community interface meetings around the country as he mobilises support ahead of the 2023 elections, was entirely to blame.
“What I heard happened in Masvingo was that the opposition leader wanted to force himself on an audience which did not want to listen to him,” Chinamasa said.
“He had no right to force people to listen to him. He had a right to address people but only those who were willing to be addressed by him.”
A group of about 200 Zanu-PF supporters brandishing placards denouncing Chamisa for the sanctions imposed by the West on the country pounced on the opposition leaders, damaging cars and injuring five opposition supporters.
Zanu-PF initially claimed the protest was stage-managed.
But Chinamasa yesterday said the villagers were angered because a “madman” wanted to address them.
“In this case, my information is that the villagers did not want to be addressed by him for obvious reasons. If you listen to a madman, you become part of his cast, you will be portrayed as part of his cast, he will then go ahead and say, I have lots of support, which he does not have.
“So our Zanu-PF people have a right to say, we don’t want you to address us, we don’t want to, it’s my right, but if you force me to listen to you, I have reason to be angry.”
Chinamasa did not, however, explain why the police teargassed Chamisa at a private residence, how the villagers acquired the neatly printed placards or what they were doing, uninvited, at MDC Alliance gatherings.
He also claimed that Chamisa and his entourage fired guns into the air to try and scare away Zanu-PF supporters.
“I hear the opposition leader and his bodyguards fired shots in the air,” Chinamasa said.
“You know the last time we heard shots in the air was during the liberation struggle, now if there is anything that can agitate people and make them angry, is trying to demonstrate your power through firing a gun.
“You must expect the consequences; you are basically asking people to defend themselves.”
Chinamasa also claimed some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were receiving funding from the West to topple the government and the party will soon be issuing a directive to party supporters to shun them.
“So, we will be writing a directive mentioning the NGOs that are proxies of countries wanting to topple the Zanu-PF government,” Chinamasa said.
“We will tell our supporters, don’t have anything to do with those people, don’t associate with those people, they are no good, they are going to bring misery to you.”
Before Chinamasa’s Press conference, Zanu-PF supporters vented their anger through social media.
“The villagers who demonstrated against @nelsonchamisa in Masvingo did so within the confines of the law. Chamisa represents a violent organisation which called for sanctions. Villagers were not violent. Chamisa is not immune from demos,” wrote Zanu-PF Patriots on Twitter.
Information Ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana and Zanu-PF director of information Tafadzwa Mugwadi thanked the people of Masvingo for attacking and blocking Chamisa’s convoy.
They accused the MDC Alliance of stage-managing the attacks in order to draw the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan who is scheduled to visit Zimbabwe to assess the impact of sanctions on the country from October 18 to 28.
“We are in the event of #COP26 and the special rapporteurs’ engagement is about to happen. Do you know what else has started? The Dramas,” Mangwana tweeted. “We are tired of the @mdczimbabwe provocations aimed at setting the agenda and stage for the coming UN Rapporteur on sanctions…,” Mugwadi also tweeted.
Yesterday, the MDC Alliance tweeted: “Excessive roadblocks have been mounted in Masvingo following the arrival of president Chamisa. Police Zimbabwe are conducting illegal stop and search operations. They say they are looking for weapons.”
In a statement, MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the arrival of Chamisa in Masvingo province saw ruling party supporters turn the area into a warzone.
“This political violence is unconstitutional; it violates our political rights enshrined in section 67 of the Constitution, and causes extreme concern,” Mahere said.