“About 36 police officers in Harare besieged the MDC head office, Harvest House yesterday at 15:10hrs. Reasons remain unknown. They blocked Nelson Mandela traffic route, others gathered outside, armed with teargas canisters, button sticks and guns,” read a message posted on the MDC-T website late Tuesday afternoon.
A thick air of teargas pervaded streets in the city centre while police staged running battles with clueless members of the public.
Shops along Nelson Mandela where Harvest House is located were all forced to close abruptly.
Police watched a woman who was struck by a car as she tried to run away from an advancing group of baton wielding anti-riot police.
An MDC-T youth who saw the incident unfold told Radio VOP the mayhem started when some plain clothes police officers accompanied by Harare council police invaded vendors along Nelson Mandela avenue around 12 noon forcing them to flee after the vendors became hostile and resisted arrest.
“Anti-riot police later came in the afternoon and beat up the vendors,” adding that they also attempted to force entry into Harvest House claiming some of the vendors had sought refuge at Harvest House. We think this was just a ploy to raid Harvest House.
MDC-T national organising secretary and ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa, who had been inside Harvest house when the raid took place is said to have stormed out of the building and sped off in his Mercedes Benz.
A truckload of police officers in riot gear set camp outside Harvest House for the entire part of the afternoon while dozens more staged running battles with curious members of the public, virtually halting business in central Harare.
“This is part of the grand plan by Chihuri (Police Commissioner General) and Zanu-PF to abuse the police to harass the MDC and its leadership,” party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora later told Radio VOP.
“It has become clear to Zanu-PF that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC command huge support from the people of Zimbabwe. That is why Chihuri is ordering his subordinates to interfere with the MDC rallies. Now they have moved to MDC headquarters to interfere with the smooth administration of the party.”
Mwonzora said police did not proffer any “cogent” reason why they deployed huge manpower to invade the MDC-T offices although they first claimed they were looking for Washington Gaga, one of the security officers at Harvest House.
The police raid incident on the MDC-T comes hard on the heels of police disruptions on Matebeleland North rallies by party president and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.