The internal fights within the country’s major political parties of Zanu PF and the MDC-T continued unabated during the month as the parties prepare for their respective congresses later this year. Party stalwarts jostled for positions ahead of the elective congresses scheduled for October and December for the MDC-T and Zanu PF respectively. The intra-party fights manifested in a spate of public violence and war of words within the two parties. There was an upsurge in the use of hate language with words like “gamatox1” and weevils” becoming part of the political language.
While political leaders continued to fight at the national level, the levels of political violence remained subdued throughout the country with a total of 193 cases having been recorded during the month under review as compared to the 196 witnessed in August 2014. As has been with the past three months, the Midlands province had the highest number of violations at 68 cases followed by Mashonaland Central with 29 incidents.
The MDC-T had the bulk of the incidents related to mismanagement of internal party democracy with Zanu PF following closely behind. The MDC-T had 36 cases of intra-party violence as the party moved to restructure its district and provincial leadership and nomination of candidates ahead of the party’s congress while Zanu PF had 30 recorded incidents. In Zanu PF, apart from the prominent power struggles on succession ahead of the elective congress in December, the entrance by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe has provided a new source conflict within the party.
Violence marred most of the MDC-T congress preparations as party officials from Chitungwiza, Harare and Bulawayo provincial congresses openly exchanging blows. The MDC-T activists reportedly fought at a Harare provincial congress during the weekend of 20-21 September as two distinct camps jostled to nominate either current organising secretary Nelson Chamisa or spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora for the post of secretary-general. In another related matter, violence erupted at the party’s Bulawayoprovincial offices on September 14, 2014 resulting in members laying assault charges against each other. MDC-T Bulawayo deputy organising secretary Tsepiso Helen Mpofu was allegedly beaten up by Artwell Sibanda during the skirmishes that left the provincial offices with broken windows.
The intra-party fighting within Zanu PF intensified towards the end of the month after statemedia allegedly exposed 12 MPs for having links with Western governments in violation of the party’s rules. The MPs were subsequently referred to as the “Dirty Dozen”. One of the named MPs and the party’s provincial Chairperson for Mashonaland West Themba Mliswa scoffed at the allegations and moved on to attack other senior government officials during a press conference in Harare on 29 September 2014.
The attacks on the officials did not go down well with other provincial leaders as he was later in the day assaulted by fellow provincial executive, Beauty Zhuwao, following a heated verbal exchange at a meeting in Chinhoyi. The meeting was immediately adjourned following the incident as police rushed to cordon off the venue and disperse the gathering. The provincial leaders reportedly belong to different factions.
Property rights violations in terms of farm invasions, business grabbing by Zanu PF youths and war veterans continued to take place with high levels of impunity. Where authorities try to intervene, other political leaders condemn such actions by law enforcing agents alleging the grabs were in order citing that the grabbers were in need of jobs and decent livelihoods. War veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda moved in to defend youths from Bulawayo who had invaded farms on the outskirts of the city arguing that they were victims of the current poor economic situation.
A white farmer David Connolly has continued with his fight to remain on Centenary Farm in Matabeleland South through the courts with the deputy chief secretary in the office of the president and Cabinet Ray Ndhlukula claiming that he was awarded the farm by President Robert Mugabe. Despite the court processes still on, people claiming to be relatives of Ndlukula invaded the farm on 13 September 2014.
The Epworth Local Board and the Chitungwiza Municipality moved in to demolish what they termed “illegal structures” leaving scores of residents homeless on Friday 28 September 2014. The demolitions which were carried out during the middle of the night ended up being violent after some of the residents resisted the acts. The police anti-riot squad had to fire warning shots into the air to disperse an angry crowd resisting eviction from their homes. In Chitungwiza, a nearly completed new shopping complex in St Mary’s suburb was demolished to the ground using the same tactics while hundreds of families were rendered homeless after the local municipality ordered the demolition of houses.