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PM's Party Denies Intra-Party Violence Marred Primary Polls

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC formation has denied that his party's weekend primary elections were marred by intra-party violence, despite posted Facebook messages to the contrary from several aspiring candidates.

Mutare councilor Chrispen Dube says he was left hospitalized after a brutal attack by people he says are supporters of an opposing faction.

Arnold Tsunga, who’s aspiring for the Dangamvura-Chikanga parliamentary seat, posted on his Facebook page that Dube was attacked by supporters of his rival Giles Mutsekwa, the sitting Member of Parliament and Housing Minister in the Government of National Unity.

On his Facebook wall, Mr. Tsunga wrote that he believed the assault on Mr. Dube spared him: "Thanks Clr Dube for suffering such a brutal and barbaric assault last night to prevent any chance of me being attacked. Thanks to Mutare Gen Hospital nurses and doctors for saving your life. Never imagined I could personally witness this indignity!"

When questioned about the incident, Tsunga alleged that Mr. Mutsekwa ordered his supporters to attack him and his team.

Tsunga accuses one Kinston Mutandi and a colleague called Nhamarare for leading the attack that he called "pretty scary and completely uncalled for." Mutandi was arrested and is expected to appear in court soon.

Dube said he assaulted in full view of Mutsekwa at Mega Watt building in the city center, where the verification process of who was going to vote was taking place.

“Mutsekwa came in the company of his youths at Mega Watt where I was with Tsunga," he says. "I had the impression that they were going to assault Tsunga and that is when I tried to restrain them and I was badly assaulted.”

Mutsekwa denies he ordered his supporters to assault Dube. He alleges the Tsunga faction had abducted Happymore Chidziwa, who was set to conduct the verification exercise of the Electoral College. Tsunga did not respond to calls for an interview.

Proceedings to confirm or deny Mutsekwa the right to represent the party in the election were eventually postponed following a disagreement on who was eligible to vote.

The MDC said though there were disagreements over the verification process, the exercise was not suspended over reported incidents of violence.

The party itself denies the any violence took place. They also deny another incident at the party’s Harvest House headquarters in Harare Friday where a Zimbabwe Independent journalist, Herbert Moyo, was allegedly assaulted while covering a demonstration of disgruntled MDC supporters complaining about the conduct of the primary elections.

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Mr. Moyo tells VOA that he was dragged into the party building and was beaten up after refusing to surrender his phone that he was using to take pictures.

MDC-Tsvangirai formation deputy spokesman Joel Gabuza, who was in Manicaland for the primaries over the weekend, told VOA no violent incidents were recorded.

Mr. Gabuza said while he was in the area in charge of some of the elections, he did not hear of any incidents of violence.

"There was a lot of high tension, anxiety, like any contestation you'd expect people to have their tempers raised but there was certainly no exchange of blows or any scuffling," said Gabuza.

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He said the party is still investigating the Harvest House incident.