THE MDC Alliance yesterday claimed that Zanu PF supporters mounted a “roadblock” in Gutu, kidnapped and beat up some opposition supporters at their meeting with party leader Nelson Chamisa, who is on a whirlwind tour of Masvingo province.
Chamisa’s tour has been marred by violence, with Zanu PF supporters blocking and attacking his entourage, protesting against what they claim was his support for the Western-imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The kidnapping and torture claims by Chamisa’s party came at a time when civic organisations, United Kingdom and the United States condemned political violence in the country.
This followed claims yesterday that at least six MDC Alliance members were kidnapped on their way from the meeting.
“Six MDC Alliance members have been kidnapped and beaten on their way back from a meeting being addressed by Chamisa,” the party said in a statement.
“They were attacked at Gutu Garage in Mupandawana. This was at an illegal roadblock manned by Zanu PF youths. Police were present watching the attack.”
The MDC Alliance also claimed that one of its councillors in Masvingo had his vehicle stoned in Gutu and three people he was travelling with went missing after clashes at the “illegal” Zanu PF-manned roadblock.
Zanu PF acting spokesperson Mike Bimha said he was not aware of the incident.
“I am in Victoria Falls as I speak. I have not heard of that. I was busy with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce meeting,” Bimha said.
Political tension in the country has caught the attention of the international community with US and UK senators voicing their concern.
US Senator and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration should take “concrete steps” to respect human rights. The US warned that continuous attacks on citizens and opposition were some of the many reasons sanctions would remain in force.
“Political violence by Zanu PF against the opposition is unacceptable. There must be accountability. The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act required Zimbabwe’s government to take concrete, tangible steps towards good governance including respect for opposition, rule of law and human rights,” Risch said.
A British Liberal Democrat politician and member of the House of Lords, Jonathan Oates said the latest developments in Zimbabwe were worrying.
“Deeply worried to hear of the attack on opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s convoy. Important that Zanu PF and Mnangagwa condemn such violence unreservedly and that police bring perpetrators to book. Political violence should be condemned,” Oates said.
A local electoral lobby group, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said the incidents of violence were a cause for concern, particularly ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
“We deplore the incidents of violence at a Zanu PF provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in Mutare and attacks of the MDC Alliance convoy which included stoning cars, barricading roads with burning logs and assaulting members of the MDC Alliance and are certain that most Zimbabweans would wish to dissociate themselves from such acts,” the ERC said yesterday.
“Acts of intimidation and inter- or intra-party-political violence should not be tolerated in a democracy and those responsible for instigating such violence should be brought to justice.
“In this regard, we call for political parties and their leaders to conduct themselves peacefully. There must be a full investigation of incidents of violence and all those found responsible must be held accountable.”
The ERC said political parties should refrain from using language that incites violence.