By Violet Gonda
SW Radio Africa
10 June 2013
The MDC-T hit the headlines this weekend after a journalist from the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent newspaper was assaulted, allegedly by party youths inside the party headquarters in Harare on Friday.
In Mutare a party councillor received medical treatment after violence broke out among MDC-T members in Chikanga-Dangamvura on Thursday ahead of primary elections in Manicaland province this past weekend.
Journalist Herbert Moyo was covering internal disputes by MDC-T members who were protesting against the imposition of candidates in Sunningdale, when he was blocked by a group of youths from covering the demonstration.
Moyo told reporters he was forcefully pulled inside Harvest House where he was beaten thoroughly.
The journalist was only freed when a colleague alerted the MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora by phone to tell him what was happening.
It is reported a journalist with the state controlled Chronicle newspaper, Mashudu Netsianda, had also been attacked the previous day in Bulawayo while he was covering a meeting between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the business community. The youths are said to have confiscated his notebook and deleted recordings he had made of the event.
The incidents, coming from a party that has over the years called for media freedom and non violence is particularly damaging, especially as the MDC-T is currently calling for media reforms ahead of forthcoming polls.
The MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube issued a statement on Monday condemning the attack on media practitioners and called on the MDC-T to deliver these “bloodletting thugs to the police without delay.”
MDC National Spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said: “We view this attack as a blatant violation of freedom of the press. That this is carried out by the MDC-T at their citadel and head quarters is blood chilling and shocking.
“It is a clear intimidation tactic from the MDC-T to try and muzzle the media from covering their intra party shenanigans. Evidently the MDC-T took this cue from their cousins ZANU – PF and they learned it well in typical monkey see – monkey do fashion.”
But MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa told SW Radio Africa that his party has been a victim of violence and described what happened as “abominable” and unacceptable.
Chamisa said his party is investigating the reports, saying this could have been the work of infiltrators who are bent on portraying the MDC-T as a violent party.
“It’s a possibility that these are people who are bent on discrediting the party and who are probably infiltrators. We have no evidence to suggest these are MDC people and we have no reason to believe that these could be our people.”
Chamisa went on to say the Ncube led MDC accusations are misplaced and out of order, but warned: “If it is found that these are our people, then definitely there is going to be gnashing of teeth and there is going to be the force of a hippopotamus in the pursuit of these individuals.”
Meanwhile, the rivalry between Housing Minister Giles Mutsekwa, who is also the MP for Chikanga-Dangamvura, and prominent human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga, who is an aspiring candidate, took an ugly turn when intra-party violence broke out in this constituency resulting in one of Tsunga’s supporters –Mutare councillor Chrispen Dube – sustaining serious injuries.
Dube told the Standard newspaper that he was beaten up in full view of the Housing Minister. “Mutsekwa came in the company of his youths at Mega Watt where I was with Tsunga. I had the impression that they were going to assault Tsunga and that is when I tried to restrain them and I was badly assaulted,” said Dube.
Violence broke out after Tsunga’s camp accused the other side of trying to manipulate the voter verification process. Mutsekwa’s camp denies rigging the voting process but accuse their rivals of trying to discredit the minister in order to push for primaries.
The dispute led to the suspension of the confirmation exercise in this Mutare constituency on Sunday. If Mutsekwa fails the this process he will automatically run against Tsunga.
Commenting on the violence that broke out in Mutare, Chamisa, who had once said the MDC-T is allergic to violence, said it is possible to have an allergic attack once in a while.
He said his party had successfully finished all the provincial elections in 12 administrative provinces without any ‘blemishes’. He added: “The fact that you have a black spot on a white cloth does not make the cloth black.”