An orgy of violence marred a by-election rally of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) in Mbizo, Kwekwe on Sunday, February 27, with reports that one person died while scores were injured when ruling party Zanu PF supporters stormed the venue.
Nelson Chamisa the President of CCC was addressing thousands of supporters who had braved the searing heat when suspected supporters of the ruling Zanu PF party disrupted the meeting attacking people with spears, machetes, and stones.
“This is what Zanu PF intruders did to us. They were so angry because of the huge turnout at our rally. They unleashed violence using stones, machetes, and iron bars,” said Chamisa.
Fadzai Mahere the CCC Spokesperson who gave updates throughout the rally, the late supporter was pierced on the side with a spear.
“At least 17 have been hospitalized while 1 person sadly lost his life following an orgy of violence by Zanu PF thugs during President Chamisa’s address. They used spears, machetes, and iron bars. We condemn the regime’s use of violence against our members,” she told the press.
Pictures of the injured supporters surfaced on most social media platforms evoking widespread anger from the public.
Evans Mawarire who is the brains behind the campaign ‘This Flag’ said it was unfortunate that the ruling party was resorting to violence to silence other dissenting voices.
“Today I am saddened by this disgusting barbarism of Zanu-PF. They have failed us utterly and convincingly. It is time for my countrymen to put aside our differences and think clearly about the legacy we are leaving. Zanu-PF MUST GO!”, he tweeted.
The police Assistant Commissioner, Paul Nyathi in a press statement said 16 suspects had been arrested in connection with the incident.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) confirms the violent incident which occurred in Kwekwe in which one person died. The ZRP also confirms that 16 suspects have been picked up in connection with the incident,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Nyathi said investigations were underway to establish what exactly happened.
However, the police have been accused of turning a blind eye when opposition supporters are being attacked.
On Saturday the police stopped a rally by the CCC in rural Gokwe and used water cannons to attack CCC supporters who had converged to meet Chamisa. The rally had to be abandoned as police later produced a letter barring the rally that had earlier been sanctioned.
In a statement, the officer commanding Gokwe said they had received credible information that the proposed by-election campaign launch rally would result in a series of disruptions.
“Police will not be able to provide adequate protection,” read the statement.
The police insisted that the bulk of their officers had been deployed to Kwekwe where the ruling Zanu PF was also holding a similar rally which was addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
It was during that rally that vice president Constantino Chiwenga threatened opposition with violence.
“Let me assure you that there is nothing that it (CCC) can achieve, you see how we crush lice with a stone. You put it on a flat stone and then flatten it,” he said to a thunderous applause from Zanu PF supporters.
However, President Mnangagwa tried to tone it down by saying; “It is undemocratic to be violent against democracy.”
Zimbabwe will hold 133 by-elections for the National Assembly and local authorities on March 26, but the run-up has been largely violent raising fears that the general elections slated for 2023 could be bloody.