The two main parties in Zimbabwe's rickety national unity government traded accusations on Tuesday over the latest outbreak of political violence in the country and whether the Zimbabwean Republic Police was remiss in dealing with the Sunday clashes.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a meeting Monday with President Robert Mugabe blamed Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri for not intervening to protect his party's supporters from ZANU-PF militants attacking with stones and other weapons at a rally on Sunday in the Harare satellite community of Chitungwiza.
But presidential spokesman George Charamba told a Harare newspaper this week that the president intimated to him that the police did not respond to the violence because Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has indicated that it does not want police present at its rallies, which have often been blocked by the authorities.
Charamba confirmed that the leaders of the unity government have agreed a meeting on Friday of the ZANU-PF central committee and the executive councils of both MDC formations (the other led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube - discuss violence.
Tsvangirai MDC Organizing Secretary Nelson told reporter Blessing Zulu that said Mr. Mugabe was being disingenuous about police inaction on political violence given police interference in MDC rallies very recently in Victoria Falls, among other venues.
Mr. Tsvangirai accused Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and another top ZANU-PF youth official of mobilizing party youths to attack MDC rallies.
He charged that the youth and indigenization minister brought ZANU-PF youths to Chitungwiza the night before the rally was disrupted, injuring scores.
“I told the President that Kasukuwere and one Chapfika, a special councilor in Chitungwiza, were responsible for bringing youths in Chitungwiza a night before the meeting,” Tsvangirai said. “It has been proven that ZANU-PF was responsible and of course the president could not dispute what he had been told," Mr. Tsvangirai said.
Kasukuwere could not be reached immediately for comment.
But Youth and Indigenization Ministry legal adviser Psychology Maziwisa dismissed Mr. Tsvangirai’s accusations, saying the youth minister was in Mutare at the time.
“That is absolutely rubbish," Maziwisa said. "You see the thing with Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change is they want to appear as if they are peacemakers when they are troublemakers themselves.”
ZANU-PF Youth Chairman for Harare Jim Kunaka, alleged leader of the Chipangano organization, has also been singled out as an organizer of the violence in Chitungwiza and other parts of Harare. But Kunaka said he was not in Chitungwiza on Sunday.
“Whenever there is violence they always say I was there. They don’t really know me. Maybe my ghost was there but myself, physically, I was at my farm,” Kunaka claimed.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said the real reason for the current wave of violence is uneasiness in ZANU-PF over the succession to Mr. Mugabe, 87, who is believed to be receiving treatment for metastatic cancer of the prostate gland.