Pandemonium erupted Wednesday Makro Wholesalers in Harare when Jocelyn Chiwenga, wife of Zimbabwean Army General Constantine Chiwenga, assaulted a photojournalist and shouted obscenities at Movement for Democratic Change faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai and members of parliament of his party.
The incident occurred when Tsvangirai, accompanied by numerous journalists, was touring supermarkets and wholesalers to personally assess the impact of the state’s anti-inflation drive dubbed “Operation Dzikisai Mitengo,” or "Reduce Prices."
Tsvangirai said the blitz has failed. "The people are worse off than they were before," he told VOA, "it is evident basic commodities are no longer available."
Witnesses said Chiwenga, in the Makro store at the time, ordered security guards to lock the doors and deal with the “traitors,” referring to Tsvangirai and his entourage. Some journalists and legislators bolted before the doors were locked, but witness said Chiwenga slapped news photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, who was caught inside. Witnesses said she ordered her bodyguard to assist her, but he declined.
Financial Gazette reporter Kumbirai Mafunda and a Zambia Post reporter identified only as George were said to have sustained bruises as they tried to escape.
Mukwazhi told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he would consult legal counsel on what action to take against Chiwenga.
Contacted for comment, Chiwenga acknowledged assaulting the reporter as well as threatening and insulting Tsvangirai and others accompanying him.
Jocelyn Chiwenga, refusing to answer questions in English, said in Shona that wants to show the MDC and U.S. President George Bush that Zimbabwe is a military state.
Mukhwazhi’s encounter with Chiwenga had a precedent in 2003, when she allegedly assaulted Daily News reporter Philimon Bulawayo and his lawyer Gugulethu Moyo, now a London-based official with the International Bar Association. The incident took place at Glen View police station, where officers refused to restrain her.