By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
17 February 2014
Senior MDC-T official Elton Mangoma suffered a bloodied nose and bruises during an attack by party youths who were gathered at Harvest House on Saturday.
The MDC-T said the deputy treasurer was attacked as he left the MDC-T headquarters after a heated meeting of district heads to discuss the restructuring of the party.
Mangoma fell foul of Tsvangirai’s fans last month when he called for the MDC-T leader to step down to facilitate leadership renewal.
Prior to the physical attack, Mangoma had been variously denounced in news forums and on networking sites by some Tsvangirai loyalists.
Mangoma told SW Radio Africa that although the likelihood of violence was apparent during the meeting, “there wasn’t sufficient condemnation of violence”.
“We had people who had spent most of the day being given beer, and by the time the meeting ended they were fairly drunk, and really being told that they should beat me up,” the MDC-T deputy treasurer said.
Mangoma said that when they realised that the situation was charged, it was agreed that he would leave the building with party president Tsvangirai, who had earlier addressed the group of about 60 youths to try and disperse them.
“As we went out of the door, he (Tsvangirai) stopped and I proceeded to his car, and that is when I was assaulted and beaten up by a number of people. I was bundled into his car and we drove off without him,” said Mangoma.
MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala said some of the youths were carrying placards mocking Mangoma’s disability.
“If l was God l could have healed Mangoma’s disability because some posters were boldly displayed mocking his limping,” Sikhala posted on Facebook
Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka took a swipe at what he described as “mistruths and inaccurate information being peddled in the media” which suggested that Tsvangirai was complicit in the attack on Mangoma.
Tamborinyoka said his boss had in fact rescued Mangoma and party secretary-general Tendai Biti from the restive party supporters.
“Firstly, an impression is being created that President Tsvangirai was complicit in the alleged violence and did not do anything to assist the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“The President came down the building after an eight-hour robust and deliberative leadership meeting with all district chairpersons from across the country and addressed restive party supporters, imploring upon them to desist from harassing any member of the party,” Tamborinyoka said in a statement Monday.
In other weekend reports however, Tsvangirai was quoted as suggesting that the youths could have been planted by ZANU PF to tarnish his party.
“I know there could have been infiltrators, agent provocateurs who want to tarnish the image of the party,” the Daily News said quoting Tsvangirai’s address at Glen Norah Community Hall in Harare.
Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora also sought to distance his party from the rowdy youths by claiming that “there could have been an element of sabotage by the enemies of the party now that a successful meeting had been concluded.”
Nixon Nyikadzino said the incident had demonstrated the MDC-T’s failure to rise above the ZANU PF culture of violence and indiscipline.
“As Zimbabweans we seemed to have learned from, and are upgrading, the kind of violent behavior that has come to define ZANU PF.
“It is shocking that a party which purports to be democratic is violating one of the fundamental constitutional freedoms – freedom to hold an opinion and express it.
He said calls for regime change or leadership renewal should be accepted within any set-up, especially if there are obvious and glaring failings by current leaders.
Nyikadzino added that rather than try to distance itself from Mangoma’s attackers the MDC-T party should be investigating, with a view to censuring those involved.
“These are known youths who spend a lot of time at Harvest House and so if the party is serious about bringing them to book, it should be easy to identify them. This is criminality and it shouldn’t be allowed,” he added.