HUNDREDS of people from rural areas throughout Zimbabwe have fled their homes and sought refuge at the MDC headquarters in Harare amid reports that state-sponsored political violence is spiralling.
The post-election disturbances are allegedly taking place despite this week’s denial by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa of political violence against MDC supporters by government state security agents and the ruling Zanu PF militia.
Zanu PF on the other hand accuses the MDC of fomenting violence and in the process delaying the release of the presidential election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
On Tuesday scores of people, mostly from Mashonaland East, could be seen at Harvest House narrating to the opposition party’s acting president Thokozani Khupe how they were assaulted and tortured by Zanu PF militia and war veterans.Â
According to an MDC-T official who requested anonymity, 240 people from all over the country slept at the party headquarters on Tuesday, while several others sought refuge at the party’s provincial offices and at “safe houses”.
One of the assaulted MDC supporters at Harvest House, Poshie Pfiranimata (22) of Mudzi South, said he was tortured a fortnight ago and sitting down has become an excruciating experience for him.
Pfiranimata was assaulted on his buttocks and abdomen, resulting in serious injuries and was this week receiving medical attention at a private hospital.Â
“I am in pain whenever I try to sit down and I wish I could be well,” said Pfiranimata.
He explained how he was attacked.
“Zanu PF youths came to our homestead on April 11 and asked me to attend an MDC rally in our area.
They (Zanu PF supporters) started beating me up when I refused to attend this fake meeting because I knew who they were,” he alleged.
“They dragged me to Donzwe Primary School where they were based. I was thoroughly beaten by large sticks all over the body.Â
I eventually passed out.”
He alleged that a headman in his area and war veterans ordered members of Zanu PF’s youth league to inflict pain on him because he voted for the MDC in the March 29 elections.
A doctor who examined Pfiranimata said he sustained an inflamed tissue on his buttocks known as abscess and cellulites.
Mashonaland East MDC youth chairperson Samuel Kamundarira alleged that senior government and army officials were inciting violence in the province.
He claimed the perpetrators were using vehicles without numberplates and belonging to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“Unmarked Rhino CAM vehicles belonging to ZEC are carrying Zanu PF youths and armed war veterans who are beating up our people from Murehwa to Mudzi,” Kamundarira alleged. “Several people have fled their homes because of the violence.”
Among those at Harvest House were children of school-going age who also claimed to have been victims of the state-sponsored political violence.
A 12-year-old boy (name supplied) from Shamva, who sought refuge at the opposition party’s headquarters with his parents, said he sustained a deep cut on his shin when Zanu PF members allegedly attacked his family’s home and stoned them.
“We were attacked by some people who were dressed like gold panners,” said the boy. “We fled when they torched our houses and I was stoned when we were fleeing from the attack,” he said.
By Tuesday the boy was yet to get medical attention.
According to Ndaipa Kaphazi, a losing council election candidate in Shamva, more than 50 homes were set on fire last Sunday and livestock were lost.
Â “We lost the elections, 150 broilers and 29 goats,” Khapazi said. “I wonder why they (perpetrators) continue persecuting us.”
Lovemore Mafemera, who was an MDC polling agent at Nyamaganhu-Charehwa ward in Mutoko North, fled to Harare soon after 300 suspected Zanu PF youth and war veterans stormed his home and assaulted him for supporting Tsvangirai and the opposition party.
Another victim of the ruling party violence, Phineas Nyandoro of Gutu West, Masvingo, said when the nation was celebrating 28 years of Independence, he was battling for his life at Gutu Hospital after Zanu PF supporters mobbed his homestead and struck him with an axe for supporting MDC.
The 60-year-old man said he was abducted for two days before seeking medical attention and he lost his property when the perpetrators set his home on fire.
He alleged that a known war veteran in Gutu was among those responsible for his injuries.
Didymus Bande, a winning councillor in Harare’s peri-urban settlement of Epworth, said he came to his party’s headquarters to seek night refuge on Tuesday after four unidentified man driving an unmarked new Isuzu twincab truck visited his home and threatened to “eliminate” him.
He, however, vowed to continue meeting his party members to ensure that there was no further victimisation.
“As a leader, I will continue visiting my ward to ensure that I’m updated on the current incidences of violence as well as to encourage the supporters to soldier on,” said Bande.
Another MDC member who spoke on condition of anonymity said his home had become a no-go area since April 13.
He claimed that a Zanu PF businessman at Jaravaza shopping centre in Gokwe shot him on his leg after they quarreled over his support for the MDC.
“It is now close to two weeks since I last saw my family, but I am informed that my wife and children have returned to her maternal home,” he said. “I was shot on April 13 and since then I’ve never returned home.
The businessman who shot me told me that MDC members were not allowed in the ward.”
He now walks on crutches.
Consoling the victims, Khupe said the MDC was lobbying the international community to speedily attend to the “humanitarian crisis” in the country.
She encouraged party activists to pray and promised that the MDC would compensate the victims if it comes to power.
“We are going to fight to the finish through prayers and by informing the international community about the political violence,” Khupe said. “Our government will set up a fund that will compensate all victims of political violence from Gukurahundi to this day,” she promised.
Tsvangirai on Tuesday met United Nations secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon in Accra, Ghana, on the sidelines of a UN meeting and told him of the alleged state-sponsored violence.
However, police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena professed ignorance of the scores of people who have sought refuge at the MDC headquarters.
“We are not aware of these people at Harvest House,” Bvudzijena said. “I don’t want to make any political statements but it would be a responsible action for the MDC to make these reports known to the police.”