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MDC Alliance: Armed Soldiers, Police Helped Khupe's MDC-T to Invade Our Headquarters

FILE: Police surround opposition party supporters who had gathered to hear a speech by the country's top opposition leader in Harare, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

The Movement for Democratic Change Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa claims that its offices were Thursday night invaded by state security agents, who helped the Thokozani Khupe MDC-T to take over Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House in Harare.

In a statement, MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere said their offices were invaded by the MDC-T, which was backed by a truckload of armed soldiers, police and more than 20 youth.

“The soldiers severely assaulted our security personnel who were manning the building. The youths locked themselves in the building, refusing to leave. The MDC Alliance secretary general Mr. Chalton Hwende immediately attended the scene and tried to make a police report. The Zimbabwe Republic Police refused to take the report and advised that he should speak to the soldiers who in turn denied the secretary general entry to the building.

“The MDC Alliance maintains its rightful position as the occupants of Harvest House and will not allow such underhanded and patently unlawful seizure of its property. The use of the armed forces to settle personal squabbles must be condemned in the strongest way possible by all pro-democratic forces.”

Mahere said the property seizure “puts to rest all falsehoods that the recent attacks on the MDC Alliance have been driven by an interest in constitutionalism and democracy.”

But Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T told VOA Studio 7 that they have taken over the property as it belongs to the party led by Khupe.

Reuters report that Zimbabwe's police arrested five senior officials of the main opposition party on Friday after they attempted to enter the party's Harare headquarters, which is being occupied by a rival faction.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been divided since Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ruled on March 30 that Nelson Chamisa was not its legitimate leader and installed Thokozani Khupe, head of one faction inside the party, to lead it in the interim.

Most MDC members still regard Chamisa as their leader and accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of siding with Khupe's faction in the battle for control of the movement.

Supporters of Khupe seized control of the party's offices at Harvest House late on Thursday while police watched, a video of the incident circulated by the MDC showed. Anti-riot police on Friday cordoned off the building, which has stood as a symbol of the MDC's fight against Mnangagwa's ruling ZANU-PF party for the past two decades.

Some MDC officials, led by party vice president and former finance minister Tendai Biti, then tried to enter Harvest House.

"We are the rightful owners of the building and you have had no court order to stop us from entering," Biti told the police officers blocking their way.

He and four other MDC officials were arrested and transported to a police station in a lorry. It was not immediately clear what charges they would face.

Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said he had no details of the arrests.

Chamisa says his party is different from Khupe's outfit after it contested elections in 2018 under the name MDC Alliance while Khupe's ran as the MDC-T party.

Chamisa, 42, narrowly lost those elections to Mnangagwa. He says he is being persecuted for refusing to recognise the president's disputed victory while Khupe accepted the results.

Chamisa's MDC accuses Mnangagwa's government of eroding political rights under the cover of Zimbabwe's coronavirus lockdown, which includes a ban on political protests.

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