The tension had already reached fever pitch and it was a question of who would cast the first stone.
Battle lines had been drawn in a series of “provocative” incidents blamed on Harare South MP Hubert Nyanhongo and a band of Zanu PF youths roaming the constituency.
Nyanhongo, who is also the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development, is reportedly eyeing the Nyanga North constituency where Nyamakomba and Nyamaropa, the epicentres of the violence currently rocking the district, lie.
Nyanga North is represented by MDC-T’s Douglas Mwonzora.
On the fateful day on February 13, Mwonzora had gathered about 500 people under a tree near a football pitch at Chatindo Primary School to brief them on the Constituency Development Fund.
But Zanu PF youths loyal to Nyanhongo allegedly started pelting the crowd with stones saying they wanted to use the pitch for their social soccer match.
There was complete mayhem as the people at the meeting fought back and the fight moved to nearby shops where several windows were shattered.
Christopher Taziwa, an elderly shop owner linked with Zanu PF says he survived the attacks by a whisker as he had been sitting outside when the fighting broke out.
However, Webster Baipai, who is believed to be one of the youths linked to Nyanhongo, was not so lucky as he had his left eye plucked out in the attack.
He is recovering at Nyanga Hospital together with another Zanu PF supporter who was left for dead by the angry mob.
A few kilometres from Nyamaropa Police Station, Sheila Sabadza believes her husband, a Zanu PF youth leader survived death by the grace of God after his bedroom hut was set alight by unknown people while he was asleep.
Zanu PF supporters openly admit that they are outnumbered by MDC-T members in the area making Nyanhongo’s fight for the constituency a desperate one.
In a dossier compiled for the Joint Monitoring Committee (Jomic) — a body set up to monitor adherence to the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) — Mwonzora accuses Nyanhongo, a former soldier, of using military tactics to try and wrestle the constituency.
He accuses Nyanhongo and the Zanu PF youths of spearheading the February 13 violence.
“Hubert Nyanhongo’s vehicles, including a Nissan Hardbody ABD3740, a Mazda BT50 and a tipper lorry, were used by Zanu PF youths pursuing my motor vehicles,” Mwonzora said in a letter detailing events on the day.
“At gunpoint they abducted Tendai Chetsanga, Munyaradzi Zeta, Zondai Chipanga Manyanga, Gift Busiti and Obey Mwadiwa.
“They took them to Nyanhongo’s homestead in Nyadowa where they tortured them.
“Two of these were only released when the MDC-T youths threatened to block an ambulance carrying an injured Zanu PF activist.”
Mwonzora said the police officer in charge of Nyamaropa police station, whose name was not given, refused to take action against the abductors.
The MP, who is also the co-chairperson of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (Copac), says Nyanhongo has also roped in the Manicaland provincial head of traditional leaders, Chief Saunyama.
Saunyama is accused of removing headmen he suspects of being sympathetic to MDC-T, replacing them with Zanu PF activists to aid Nyanhongo’s campaign.
One of the kraal heads Peter Chipatarongo under Chief Katerere was reportedly relieved of his duties under Nyanhongo’s watch.
He was replaced by Pios Chipatarongo who is said to have links with Zanu PF.
Saunyama on Wednesday told a Jomic team that he had been sent to investigate the violence and that he was only replacing headmen who were not doing their jobs.
“I did not know that there are MDC-T or Zanu PF headmen in this district,” he said.
Despite the strenuous denials, Saunyama could not hide the fact that he does not see eye to eye with Mwonzora.
Saunyama accused Mwonzora of bad-mouthing him and said he would be sending emissaries to his clan’s elders in Mozambique with the Jomic dossier to consult on what action to take against the MP.
He said they asked the deputy minister to spearhead development in the area because the MP had not done anything for his people.
Nyanhongo’s supporters are also accused of threatening two teachers at Chitando Primary School for accepting a CDF donation.
The teachers are reported to have crossed the border to Mozambique fearing that the youths would make good their threats.
MDC-T is also not happy with what it believes is the selective application of the law by the police who are letting the Zanu PF perpertrators roam free.
Jomic is planning to convene a meeting between senior leaders of the two parties to try and diffuse the tense situation, which has become a stark reminder of the 2008 violence that almost brought Zimbabwe to its knees.
Nyanhongo was not available for comment but Zanu PF provincial officials who attended the Jomic meeting denied accusations that the party was behind the violence.
Mwonzora and 22 other villagers linked to MDC-T have since been arrested in connection with violence rocking the district but the law has not been swift enough to catch up with any Zanu PF members implicated in the chaos.
Although the two gladiators are still accusing each other of triggering the violence, it is clear to any outsider that Nyanhongo’s interest in the constituency has raised the tempers ahead of elections expected later this year.
Zanu PF officials in the area say Mwonzora and his supporters provoked the youths since they could have used the school grounds for the meeting instead of the pitch since it was a constituency gathering.