By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
25 February 2014
All is not well in the MDC-T following a crackdown by the police on several members of the party, who are believed to have been part of a group that manhandled the party’s deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma recently.
The fallout from the violent scenes outside Harvest House 10 days ago has resulted in the arrest of James Chidhakwa, the Youth Assembly secretary for security and defence.
He was picked up by the police over the weekend on allegations of assaulting Mangoma. He appeared in court on Monday and was denied bail. He will remain in custody until March 10th, his next court date.
On Monday, police swooped on other individuals believed to have played some part in the disturbances, like sponsoring the youths who were calling for Mangoma’s head. The rowdy youths, some of them drunk, roughed up Mangoma and tore his shirt as he made a dash for his car.
The police have said they now want to interview those who bought the youths beer. This has apparently stirred up tension in the party as members believe the police are acting beyond their mandate. Two senior allies of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai were summoned to the police on Monday where they recorded warned and cautioned statements.
Harare central MP Murisi Zwizwai, and Dennis Murira, an aide to Tsvangirai, were interrogated for hours before they were released without charge. Zwizwai told SW Radio Africa he was disappointed that his name had been dragged in to the incident and blasted Mangoma for falsely accusing him of beating him up and suggesting he bought the youths some beer.
‘Soon after the incident, Mangoma gave interviews to so many newspapers alleging that he had been beaten up by party youths. As a person who helped craft the new constitution, Mangoma should know that at my age, I’m not a youth,’ said Zwizwai who is 54.
The MP said Mangoma implied that Tsvangirai was complicit in the attack against him, but the party leaders name was not mentioned on the police charge sheet.
He added: ‘This is despite the fact that Mangoma told the whole world that Tsvangirai may have played a part in the assault.’
‘I left the meeting hours before it was finished and I was never a witness to the disturbances. I only read about it in the newspapers and for someone to claim I beat them up with clenched hands and feet is just shocking.
‘It took Mangoma a week before he reported the matter, and during the period he convened meetings where he cherry-picked names to forward to the police,’ claimed Zwizwai.
Giles Mutsekwa, the party’s secretary for Intelligence and Security, told our weekly Speak Out Padare program that while they do not condone violence, it was not police business to fish out individuals who may have bought the youths beer.
‘I don’t think buying anybody beer, especially someone over 18 years, is a crime in Zimbabwe. Anybody who beat up Mangoma should face the full wrath of the law, but the way the police is conducting itself in this case leaves a lot to be desired,’ Mutsekwa said.
He said what is surprising is that the police actually encouraged Mangoma to make a report and were actually ready ‘itching to make arrests.’
‘Their eagerness to swing into action is worrying. We have a person like Joseph Mwale, a known murderer and ZANU PF activist, who roams scot free but the police have never made any attempt to arrest him despite his whereabouts known by the authorities.
‘We have skirmishes here and there in the MDC-T like any other political party, we are not all saints but the way the police want to portray us – like we have killed Jesus Christ.’
On Tuesday police summoned seven youths who include Harare provincial youth chairperson Shakespeare Mukoyi, the party deputy chairperson Morgen Komichi’s driver Steven Jahwi, Enock Mukandi, Rhino Mashaya, Francis Machidzofa, Paul Gorekore and Samson Nerwande, for questioning over the Mangoma incident.