BY MOSES MATENGA
POLICE and Chitungwiza residents fought running battles yesterday after an early morning raid on MDC vice-chairperson Job Sikhala’s house by the law enforcement agents sparked protests in the town.
At least seven people were arrested while several others were left nursing injuries after the police descended on the town, targeting residents they accused of taking part in demonstrations at different points.
Angry youths barricaded roads and started burning tyres on the streets after police besieged Sikhala’s house in St Mary’s.
Several shops in the dormitory town were closed as the clashes intensified and police started indiscriminately beating up people, including those that remained in their homes.
Truckloads of police officers could be seen driving around the town around midday while the law enforcement agents raided residents in their homes.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the skirmishes. Nyathi claimed MDC youths had been mobilised to engage in violent activities at St Mary’s Huruyadzo shops and Zengeza 2 shops.
“The MDC youths were burning tyres and interfering with the smooth flow of traffic in the suburbs,” he said.
“The youths went on to shatter a Zupco bus windscreen while some passengers were attacked, losing their cellphones in the process.”
Sikhala said police officers stormed his home as early as 5am under unclear circumstances. The Zengeza West MP claimed that among the police officers were Zanu PF youths.
“Around 5am, I was woken up to be told that there was a police raid at my house. They just came without any reason and said there was a threat to camp at my house so they had come in riot gear,” Sikhala said.
“One of them told me clearly that you thought the threat was a hoax, now we have come.
“One of the persons who was in police uniform is a Zanu PF youth I know from around. There was never a demonstration, that is a lie. How can people demonstrate on a Saturday?
“People wanted to defend the aggression by Zanu PF elements at my house.
“So it was purely thuggery that Zanu PF did against my person and there is no justification for that.”
Sikhala said police were trying to intimidate him after he vowed to push for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ouster.
“The issue of intimidation is out of the question. These people know it. They can intimidate other people, not me,” he added.
“Even the people of Zimbabwe are fed up and can no longer be intimidated at all and that is why you see that when they started to harass me, St Mary’s reacted and said why are you harassing this innocent man and as you have seen, they are now in running battles with citizens, citizens I never talked to or incited. So basically these are desperate people and they must know they will not be able to intimidate anyone.”
Last month, Sikhala was acquitted by Masvingo High Court judge Justice Garainesu Mawadze after he was charged with treason over a speech where he said he would push for Mnangagwa’s ouster.
The former student leader, MDC president Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Tendai Biti are some of the opposition leaders that were threatened by shadowy groups linked to Zanu PF online platforms last week.
The groups said they would stage protests against MDC leaders outside their homes for their alleged role in the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, MDC deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the police indiscriminately arrested the opposition party’s supporters including national youth assembly spokesperson Stephen Chuma.
Sikhala was summoned by the police, but it was not clear whether he had handed himself over by last night.
“The police went on an orgy of violence in St Mary’s, breaking doors and barging into private homes in search of anyone suspected to be MDC. No reason was given for the siege and the state-sanctioned violence,” Tamborinyoka said.
“The MDC regards the siege in St Mary’s and the incessant harassment of party leaders as needless persecution.
“The regime is treating the MDC as a terrorist organisation when it is a legitimate political party represented in Parliament and running the majority of local government councils.”
Chamisa recently declared that his party was left with no option but to stage protests against Mnangagwa after the Zanu PF leader refused dialogue over the disputed 2018 elections.
The MDC has been holding small demonstrations across the country against the deteriorating economic situation in the country.