Opposition parties yesterday predicted a bloody run-up to the 2018 election judging by the high levels of violence and intolerance already exhibited by rival Zanu PF camps since the beginning of this year, with the latest incident recorded in Bulawayo at the weekend.
Similar bloody clashes occurred at the ruling party’s provincial headquarters in Harare last month, leaving several activists injured in the melee.
In separate interviews with NewsDay following Sunday’s skirmishes — which saw two Zanu PF youths seriously injured in intra-party clashes in Bulawayo — opposition officials accused the ruling party of setting the stage for a bloody campaign and in the process poisoning the electoral environment ahead of next year’s general elections.
“Zanu PF is and has always been a violent political party. We are not at all surprised by the intra-party violence that took place amongst Zanu PF supporters in Bulawayo at the weekend. Violence is part and parcel of the Zanu PF political DNA,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
“If they are this savagely violent amongst themselves, then you can just imagine how violent they are towards members of other competing political parties.
“Already, these Zanu PF political thugs and hoodlums are setting the stage for an extremely violent election campaign in 2018. There will be blood on the floor. This is one of the major reasons why, as the MDC, we have always been advocating for a non-violent and peaceful political discourse in this country.”
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said: “(President Robert) Mugabe is now being mauled by the violence that he brewed many years ago.
Violence is now a permanent feature in Zanu PF. Violence is usually found in political institutions that are in a high state of decomposition like Zanu PF. The hungry crocodiles are now eating each other.”
Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume said: “Mugabe and Zanu PF have always been violent. The latest developments show that they are setting the tone for violence in the upcoming watershed elections.
“Zimbabweans need to rise up now and resist this kind of behaviour. It’s unacceptable and we must stand up to this.”
Activist Farai Maguwu said the country was now in a transitional phase starting in Zanu PF.
“Since formation, Zanu PF has always settled its internal squabbles through violence or expulsion. The Bulawayo skirmishes are only the beginning and a season of long knives is fast approaching as it becomes clear a new leader has to be found given Mugabe’s ripe old age,” he said.
“Next year is likely going to be marred by both intra-party and inter-party violence.”
The Bulawayo violence was allegedly triggered by a faction campaigning for the ouster of Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
Violence broke out when the anti-Kasukuwere activists attempted to disrupt a provincial co-ordinating committee meeting, claiming the gathering was illegal.
The group targeted provincial chairperson Dennis Ndlovu, whom they labelled as Kasukuwere’s proxy, saying he had blocked attempts to join other provinces in passing a vote of no-confidence against the under-fire party commissar.
But Ndlovu remained defiant yesterday, saying he would not be pushed out of the party by “drunk mafias”.
“It’s politics. It will soon pass, I mean these power struggles,” he said.
“Sometimes people kill each other over such power struggles, but we are glad it has not come to that. We will talk to the aggrieved and hear their concerns.
“What we have noticed though is that these are the very same people who are given money and beer to come and cause chaos. It’s terrible.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo condemned the clashes and said a detailed report of the skirmishes would be tabled at the politburo’s next meeting to ensure the perpetrators were brought to book.
“We will come hard on those people responsible for that (violence). We don’t care who is involved in that,” he said.
“We have asked for a report, which will be tabled in the politburo. People should not use party processes to settle their own scores.
“The President does not support anyone who is violent, surely we will deal with that. Even if the person involved is from up there, the party has mechanisms to deal with violence.
“It tarnishes the image of the party. People should learn to discuss issues and not resort to violence. Yes, we can disagree, but not use violence. They will face the full wrath of the law.”
But, war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa claimed the clashes were the dirty works of the G40 faction.
“G40 is the problem. Putchist G40 has been nefariously seeking a Nazi-type power grab and the rank and file membership isn’t buying that,” he said.
Authors: Obey Manayiti/Xolisani Ncube/Nqobani Ndlovu