About 14 people, including Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda and Councillor Mlandu Ncube, have been arrested following a brawl Sunday in the city involving supporters of two factions of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of the late former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
According to Ncube, they are accused of masterminding the violent clashes in which supporters of vice president Thokozani Khupe were pelted with stones while they were holding a meeting at the party headquarters.
Ncube, who denied any wrong doing, told VOA Studio 7 that the perpetrators were, in fact, allegedly led by Abednico Bhebhe, the MDC-T national organizing secretary.
Bhebhe dismissed the allegations as “stupid and baseless”, saying “Ncube was leading the marauding youth who left some people seriously injured and some nursing injuries.”
Police in Bulawayo declined to comment about the arrests and national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Charity Charamba was not reachable to shed light on the issue.
Khupe and the party’s acting president Nelson Chamisa are fighting over the control of the MDC-T following the death of the MDC founding president two weeks ago.
Khupe claims that she is the legitimate acting president while Chamisa has been endorsed by the National Executive and National Council of the MDC-T as the acting president and 2018 presidential election candidate.
The MDC Alliance, which is fiercely opposed by Khupe, has further endorsed Chamisa as the opposition group’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming election.
Before Tsvangirai died last month, he allegedly handpicked Nelson Chamisa, one of the party’s three vice presidents, to lead the MDC. But Khupe and the other vice president Elias Mudzuri have opposed his leadership saying he broke party rules to get the presidential position.
Both Chamisa and Mudzuzi were handpicked by Tsvangirai as MDC-T vice presidents while Khupe was elected at the party’s last congress.