THUGS LOOT, BURN IN DEMOS Pres­i­dent blasts pro­tes­tors

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Free­man Razemba In­no­cent Ruwende

OP­PO­SI­TION par­ties’ thugs un­der the ban­ner, Na­tional Elec­toral Re­form Agenda (Nera) un­leashed an orgy of vi­o­lence in Harare yes­ter­day, loot­ing shops, burn­ing prop­er­ties, ston­ing cars and at­tack­ing in­no­cent peo­ple.

Po­lice im­me­di­ately ar­rested 67 hooli­gans mainly MDC-T and ZimPF sup­port­ers.

The pro­test­ers also stoned po­lice of­fi­cers and de­flated a po­lice ve­hi­cle.

There were un­con­firmed re­ports that an Ira­nian diplo­mat was also at­tacked.

The pro­test­ers looted Bata, Edgars, Jet shops and set ablaze a wooden door at Chop­pies Su­per­mar­ket.

The pro­test­ers started gath­er­ing at the Robert Mu­gabe Square at around 9AM and po­lice had to be de­ployed to en­sure law and or­der. Po­lice dis­persed some of the pro­test­ers who turned vi­o­lent re­sist­ing the or­ders.

Most of them were dropped at the scene by some com­muter om­nibuses and were singing and chant­ing their par­ties’ slo­gans.

As po­lice dis­persed them, some took refuge at a car at the Harare Mag­is­trates’ Court and po­lice had to move in to dis­perse them as they were dis­rupt­ing court pro­ceed­ings.

Most of the youths who ap­peared to be drunk, pro­voked the po­lice of­fi­cers by throw­ing stones at their ve­hi­cles.

The sup­port­ers later fled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions and in some cases po­lice had to fire tear­gas to dis­perse some of them, but they re­grouped and were armed with stones and var­i­ous weapons.

Busi­ness at the Harare Mag­is­trate Courts was brought to a halt as some of them fled in­side the court, but they were later or­dered to va­cate the premises.

Pris­on­ers had to be es­corted back to the Re­mand Pri­son be­cause of the dis­tur­bances. Some of the sup­port­ers later re­grouped at the in­ter­sec­tion of Robert Mu­gabe Road and Rot­ten Row where they started block­ing ve­hi­cles by burn­ing tyres and putting bar­ri­cades on the road.

Our Harare Bureau wit­nessed po­lice ar­rest­ing more than five of the sup­port­ers, most of them wear­ing MDC-T re­galia.

MDC-T Vice Pres­i­dent Mr Nel­son Chamisa and the party’s sec­re­tary gen­eral Mr Dou­glas Mwon­zora ar­rived at the Mag­is­trates’ Court car park at around 12.20PM be­fore ad­dress­ing a hand­ful of sup­port­ers in­form­ing them that a High Court or­der had been granted al­low­ing them to con­tinue with their demon­stra­tion.

“The High Court has granted us an or­der to al­low our demon­stra­tion. Let us go there and re­group but please do not pro­voke the po­lice,” Mr Mwon­zora said.

The sup­port­ers cel­e­brated but con­tin­ued to pro­voke po­lice of­fi­cers who were nearby.

A few min­utes later some Nera mem­bers who were in the com­pany of uniden­ti­fied lawyers, ar­rived at the scene to is­sue po­lice with the or­der but they were in­formed that they should go to Harare Cen­tral Po­lice Sta­tion.

Most of the sup­port­ers who were in groups, how­ever, con­tin­ued block­ing all roads, es­pe­cially along Samora Machel Av­enue, Rot­ten Row, Robert Mu­gabe Road, Chin­hoyi Street and some other roads lead­ing into the city cen­tre. Some road signs were also de­stroyed.

At Copaca­bana, the sup­port­ers pounced on ven­dors and any­one they sus­pected of try­ing to in­ter­rupt with their demon­stra­tion.

They also burnt down vend­ing ta­bles and bales of clothes and shoes at Copaca­bana.

The group was vi­o­lent and threw stones across Chin­hoyi Street re­sult­ing in most shops clos­ing.

After fail­ing to loot in some of the shops, they re­sorted to burn­ing old tyres, card­board boxes and used rub­ble to block the street.

Busi­ness at the Harare Agri­cul­tural Show was also brought to a halt, forc­ing the of­fi­cials to close all the gates.

But it was busi­ness as usual from Julius Ny­erere Way up to Seventh Street although there were some pock­ets of vi­o­lence.

In a state­ment last night, na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Ny­athi said they were con­cerned with po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

“Three hun­dred un­ruly youths led by MDC-T ac­tivists who were in party re­galia stoned Bak­ers Inn at cor­ner Speke Av­enue and Leopold Takawira Street.

“These pock­ets of mal­con­tents blocked roads, burned tyres and at­tacked a po­lice ve­hi­cle and de­flated its tyres along Samora Machel Av­enue near Show­grounds. They looted goods at Bata Shop, cor­ner Leopold Takawira and Bank Street, Edgars Shop at cor­ner First Street and Ja­son Moyo Av­enue and set ablaze a wooden door at Chop­pies su­per­mar­ket cor­ner Robert Mu­gabe Road and Cameron Street,” he said.

The hooli­gans also threw stones at the Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of­fices.

Chief Supt Ny­athi said the demon­stra­tors in­ter­fered with the smooth flow of traf­fic in Harare by bar­ri­cad­ing roads with stones and burn­ing tyres.

“They fought run­ning bat­tles with the po­lice. We have ar­rested 67 sus­pects and re­cov­ered some of the looted prop­erty, which in­cludes shoes, clothes and elec­tri­cal gad­gets,” he said.

Chief Supt Ny­athi said they were aware of some ven­dors who were keep­ing large stones un­derneath their wares.

He said se­cu­rity de­ploy­ments had been in­ten­si­fied and any­one who en­gaged in any acts of vi­o­lence would be dealt with. “The law will take its course on those po­lit­i­cal lead­ers who are in­cit­ing vi­o­lence un­der the guise of the right PRES­I­DENT Mu­gabe yes­ter­day warned the coun­try’s de­trac­tors spon­sor­ing op­po­si­tion par­ties to un­leash vi­o­lence on peace-lov­ing Zim­bab­weans that the Gov­ern­ment will not tol­er­ate the “stupidly” or­gan­ised protests.

Speak­ing at a send-off cer­e­mony for Zim­bab­wean stu­dents who are go­ing to study in China un­der the Pres­i­den­tial Schol­ar­ship Pro­gramme at State House yes­ter­day, the Pres­i­dent warned the em­bat­tled op­po­si­tion leader Mr Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai against try­ing to un­seat a con­sti­tu­tion­ally elected Gov­ern­ment through vi­o­lence.

The Pres­i­dent called on Zim­bab­weans to re­main calm and united against anti-demo­cratic forces bent on re­vers­ing the eco­nomic for­tunes of the coun­try.

“Even if our econ­omy is not do­ing well, do you have to go in the streets and even burn some of those very lit­tle shops that the peo­ple are de­pend­ing on? Burn their cars in the streets, burn their shops, do you have to do that? To gain what? To gain power. And if you got power, you have burnt the streets, what will you do?

to demon­strate. This in­cludes those who are cir­cu­lat­ing mes­sages of threats of vi­o­lence on so­cial me­dia plat­forms. We are quite aware of the threats which were made at a re­cent MDC-T rally which cul­mi­nated in these dis­tur­bances.”

He said po­lice had a con­sti­tu­tional man­date to pro­tect life and prop­erty.

“This re­spon­si­bil­ity will be per­formed with­out fear or favour. No amount of threats or in­tim­i­da­tion will de­ter the ZRP from per­form­ing its Con­sti­tu­tional man­date. Po­lice is al­ready in­ves­ti­gat­ing the source of these so­cial me­dia threats.”

Some of these un­ruly el­e­ments have been this week, send­ing threat­en­ing mes­sages to se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and po­lice of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing the chief po­lice spokesper­son Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Char­ity Charamba.

They said that they had al­ready fired some warn­ing shots by burn­ing down two ve­hi­cles be­long­ing to ZBC and the po­lice. “Lastly, Char­ity Charamba be warned. We won’t give you a se­cond warn­ing. Aluta acon­tinua,” reads part of the mes­sage.

Mean­while, the Busi­ness Com­mu­nity of Zim­babwe con­demned the bar­baric acts by the Nera sup­port­ers.

Busi­ness Com­mu­nity of Zim­babwe leader Mr Ji­mayi Mudu­vuri, cas­ti­gated the op­po­si­tion par­ties for fu­elling vi­o­lence. “We need to do our busi­ness in a peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment, which has been cre­ated by Zanu-PF. Our Pres­i­dent has brought peace, unity and de­vel­op­ment.

“As Busi­ness Com­mu­nity of Zim­babwe, we sym­pa­thise with our Vice Pres­i­dent (Phelekezela) Mphoko for the de­struc­tion of Chop­pies Su­per­mar­ket and other busi­ness en­ti­ties as well as ve­hi­cles be­long­ing to the pub­lic broad­caster ZBC and po­lice which were re­cently burnt by these un­ruly el­e­ments,” he said.

Mr Mudu­vuri said the op­po­si­tion par­ties es­pe­cially the MDC-T should fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try rather than de­stroy­ing in­fras­truc­ture.

“Where is your start­ing point from the ashes? And if you take over after burn­ing the streets and war, and those you have taken power from would also want to start burn­ing. So burn me and I will burn you. What pol­i­tics is that?,” he said.

Said Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe: “It’s not us, what is hap­pen­ing in the Arab world is their prob­lem we can’t bring it here. They are fight­ing against Amer­i­cans, they want Is­lam to be more recog­nised than Chris­tian­ity.

“Now some of us like Ts­van­gi­rai don’t un­der­stand this. They are say­ing what hap­pened in the Arab world should also hap­pen here, maybe it can put me in power. But we say aah, no they must not pro­voke us, we want peace.

“We want our peo­ple to live in peace, with our chil­dren go­ing to school . . . that is what we want,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe said Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to feed­ing its peo­ple de­spite ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the El-Nino in­duced drought in the 2015/16 rainy sea­son.

He said dis­as­ters oc­cur in coun­tries and cit­i­zens should not blame Gov­ern­ment if they oc­cured, adding that the na­tion should not to be in­flu­enced by regime change agents.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties’ sup­port­ers throw stones at po­lice, and (right) po­lice dis­perse them with wa­ter can­nons

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe

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