By Itai Muzondo
MASVINGO – In an incident that confirmed tensions between MDC – T party whips, youths aligned to provincial chairperson James Gumbi and party national executive member Bernad Chiondegwa on Saturday got into a fist fight, a move driven by alleged factionalism in the party.
Speaking to Radio VOP, Gumbi the current MDC Masvingo Provincial Chairperson said the unfortunate incident arose after hired thugs tried to disrupt the on-going procedures to fill up vacant positions in Chivi District party structures.
“We had gone to Chivi to conduct a position refilling procedure for Ditrict Chairman’s post, Women’s League Chairperson’s post and Youth Chairperson’s post where hired thugs tried to disrupt the procedures.
“We had got reports of the anticipated disruption before sending the provincial team to the venue so we had included our security team in the delegation to protect the facilitator which they simply did after they attempted to attack him,” said Gumbi who denied to name the people whom he said were fighting his provincial leadership.
“The people behind this are trying to fight my provincial leadership though it is not about putting names to the press or should we have the violence perpetrators arrested since we will deal with this issue internally and settle our disputes,” Gumbi added.
Speaking on behalf of Chiondegwa who was not available for comment, Peter Imbayarwo blamed Gumbi saying he should have not sent a delegation which was standing like they had come only for trouble.
“After having failed to hold such elections in July over serious misunderstandings, Gumbi should not have sent a delegation which looked as if had only came only for trouble. Such a move was the only reason youths present resorted to a fist fight and ultimately standing as if they were simply defending themselves from the threatening unidentified visitors.
The major issue in question could have been solved without a fight as the Chivi people only wanted answers to why Gumbi would approve an electorate whom they did not know on monetary grounds which most locals argued that it would cost them come election time,” Imbayarwo expressed.
Party cadre, Amos Ndingwa said that theviolent incident was a result of Chiondegwa’s bitterness for Gumbi whom he thought disrespected him by challenging him back in 2012 to holding the chairmanship post which he was eying.
“Such scenarios are quite worrying as they are caused by the same old issue that Chiondegwa was disappointed by Gumbi’s move to challenge him over the chairmanship post in 2012. The end result is this, that people fight and the party faces a lot of expenses for the victim’s treatment instead of simply accepting that in politics some people win and some people lose,” said Ndingwa.
“There were several casualties though only three were seriously injured and amongst them are John Murairwa and Joshua Chinyawo whom have since been taken for treatment at Masvingo General Hospital,” Ndingwa added.
Meanwhile, a report by a local based NGO, Community Tolerance, Reconciliation and Development Trust; (COTRAD) noted that Chivi district in the province is one of the most affected by political violence and further cited that youths contribute 42% of the violence, followed by war veterans at 30%, traditional leaders (15%) and State security agents (13%).
Nationally, as noted by Patrick Senderai, the Chairperson of the Churches and Civil Society Forum after the 2013 elections, Masvingo stood on number three pertaining politically motivated violence as Midlands topped with 124 recorded cases, Manicaland second with 97, and Masvingo having 72 cases.