Several people have been seriously injured in clashes between rival factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of the late Morgan Tsvangirai in what is seen as worsening factionalism in the party following the death of the founding MDC president a few weeks ago.
Witnesses told VOA Studio 7 that activists loyal to deputy MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe clashed with those aligned to Nelson Chamisa, who was recently endorsed as the acting party president and presidential candidate for the MDC Alliance, comprising various opposition parties.
They said Khupe’s group was cornered in the party headquarters by the stone-throwing assailants, who allegedly beat up the deputy president’s aide, Witness Dube, and several others attempting to leave the office.
The witnesses said the injured were ferried to a local hospital with indications that Khupe, MDC-T organizing secretary Abednico Bhebhe, chairman Lovemore Moyo and others were not hurt.
Police cordoned off the offices and said investigations were in progress.
Khupe posted messages and photos on Facebook showing her aide Dube with blood on his face and stoned vehicles. “We are under attack at the Bulawayo MDC-T office. People are injured and cars have been vandalized.”
Bhebhe said they were attached while he was addressing a meeting on the way forward over the leadership of the MDC-T.
“Party activists at grassroots level wanted to know about what is happening in the party and hence we convened this meeting for that purpose. When we were busy talking about the goings on in the party some people started throwing stones on top of the building. The youth who were inside the building tried to get out of the party headquarters but it was impossible to do so because stones were ‘raining’ on the building. They then shut the gate and hit back so that they would protect the party leaders inside the building.
“I was scared that my vehicle, which was already hit, would be set on fire. The other cars belonging to Khupe and Chief Ndlovu were also hit. So, I dashed out of the building to save my car and the same was done by Khupe’s driver who was unfortunately hit by a missile on his forehead and was bleeding profusely. He is in hospital right now.”
Bhebhe dismissed suggestions that he caused the violence saying, “that’s not true … It seems as if the person who said that is the only one who caused the disturbances.
“I was busy preparing my speech and someone now says I am to blame for all this. No, that’s not true. How can I cause the violence when I was the one who called people to come and attend the meeting? If I was talking to a policeman I would suggest that he should arrest the person making those allegations.”
Khupe, Bhebhe, Moyo and several other MDC-T activists, who are opposed to the MDC Alliance, were manhandled by party youths in Buhera during a burial ceremony of the late Morgan Tsvangirai as they were accused of fanning factionalism in the party.
Khupe claims that she is the legitimate president of the party while Chamisa was endorsed recently by the National Executive and National Council of the MDC-T as acting president and 2018 presidential candidate.