By Everson Mushava
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and top Zanu PF officials intervened after ruling party members in Mashonaland Central were allegedly brutalised by police in a case that has revealed deepening factionalism in the ruling party.
Fifteen police officers from Bindura appeared in court last week charged with violence after they allegedly disrupted a Zanu PF meeting at Mupandira Business Centre in Musana.
The police officers, who have since been suspended from work, were granted $5 000 bail each, but fresh details show that the cops’ arrest followed a high level meeting that involved Mnangagwa.
According to sources close to the case, all police officers from the station who were on duty, including the officer-in-charge identified as Inspector Phiri were summoned to Harare on October 10.
They were expected to explain to police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga what had happened on October 5 leading to the skirmishes.
The police officers were reportedly summoned to State House on October 11 to explain to Mnangagwa what happened.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and Bindura South MP Remigio Matangira, as well as scores of Zanu PF supporters from Bindura were at State House.
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Zanu PF supporters told Mnangagwa that the police officers unleashed dogs on them and used teargas to disrupt the meeting.
“After some time, Kazembe, Matangira, Matanga, Phiri and other top cops went into a private meeting with Mnangagwa,” a well-placed source disclosed.
Kazembe, who is also the Zanu PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairman, said he could not disclose what happened at the meeting with Mnangagwa.
“I cannot discuss with newspapers a meeting we had with the president,’” Kazembe said.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba referred questions to secretary for presidential communications Regis Chikowore.
Chikowore was not picking calls yesterday and also did not respond to questions sent to him via WhatsApp.
Zanu PF officials in Mashonaland Central province said the police officers had become pawns in the ruling party’s factional wars.
They said trouble started when a gang, which included Zanu PF members attacked three police officers, who wanted to arrest a suspect over an assault case.
“The group, which survives by chopping and selling firewood, became violent. They demanded that the police leave their colleague alone and soon turned violent,” a witness said.
“The police officer was attacked by over 50 youths and is partially blind now.
“After the attack, the police went to the shopping centre looking for the suspects.
“Kabasa (the police officer who was assaulted) managed to identify one of them but before the police arrested him, the youths started throwing stones at the law enforcement agents.
“The police were forced to fire teargas in self-defence and eventually managed to round up people and arrested eight.
“The Zanu PF meeting was held at some distance from the shopping centre where the violence took place.”
The eight, who were arrested appeared in court on October 6 charged with obstruction of justice. They are out on $4 000 bail each.
Matangira allegedly stormed the police station accusing the police officers of being sent by Kazembe to assault party members that were taking part in district elections so that he could rig the polls.
He allegedly claimed the police had arrested a Zanu PF district chairperson, who was contesting in the polls.
Kazembe has been accused of manipulating district structures in a bid to ensure his bid to retain the chairperson’s post is successful.
The Home Affairs minister is being challenged by businessman Tafadzwa Musarara.
Kazembe has also been accused of abusing the police in his political wars and is said to have demanded that charges against the Zanu PF supporters in Bindura must be dropped.
“We are shocked that the minister ordered the police to drop charges against his party officials.
“The law should not be applied selectively, if it was MDC, the cops would not have been detained or transferred as in this case. Zanu PF should change their mafia methods,” MDC Alliance chairperson for Mashonaland Central, George Gwara said.
Zanu PF Mashonaland Central provincial spokesperson Alfred Mafunga said he was in Kariba and could only comment when he returned to the province.
- *Additional reporting by Simba Sithole and Evans Mathanda.