THE Zanu PF youth league-led “million-man march” to perpetuate President Robert Mugabe’s rule has reportedly left a trail of destruction in some parts of the country after opposition activists had their houses burnt for snubbing the event.
It also emerged that thousands of Zanu PF youths were left stranded in Harare after the Wednesday event, which was a far cry from what party stalwarts had expected.
The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration also lost substantial amounts of money as the Zanu PF youths allegedly declined to pay toll fees for their “hired” buses, lorries and private vehicles at various toll plazas mounted along major highways leading to Harare.
The main opposition MDC-T yesterday claimed its supporters in rural Zhombe, Midlands province, had their homes torched by suspected Zanu PF activists for refusing to participate in the march, which failed to attract the targeted million supporters.
One of the affected MDC-T supporters told NewsDay that the incident happened on Monday night after they had refused to attend a preparatory meeting called for by Zanu PF.
The MDC-T activists said four grass-thatched houses belonging to one family were torched and the family members were now desperate as neighbours were shunning them for fear of political victimisation.
The attack came a month after Zanu PF supporters in Gutu threatened to unleash violence on opposition supporters ahead of the 2018 elections.
The ruling party supporters made the threats following a rally addressed by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Gutu a few weeks ago.
Last month, seven homesteads belonging to opposition Zimbabwe People First and Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe supporters were torched by suspected Zanu PF supporters in Manicland and Mashonaland East provinces as political tension mounts in most parts of the country ahead of the crunch polls.
But national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Charity Charamba yesterday said she had not yet received the report on the alleged arson.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu confirmed the incident.
“It’s true that some villagers in Zhombe were victimised for not attending the puerile Zanu PF march. In fact, we have received reports to the effect that some houses belonging to MDC supporters in Zhombe were burnt down by Zanu PF thugs. The MDC would like to strenuously and unreservedly condemn this act of barbarism and banditry. Zanu PF is a party of violence, intimidation and thuggery,” he said.
“No matter how much repression and suppression is brought upon the toiling masses of Zimbabwe by the crumbling Zanu PF regime, the MDC urges the people to democratically and fearlessly fight for the establishment of an equal and egalitarian society in which the rights of all citizens are upheld and respected.”
The party also released names of 37 mission, private and government schools whose buses had been commandeered to transport the Zanu PF youths to Harare for free.
This came as stranded Zanu PF youths bussed from different provinces were left baying for their party leaders’ blood after being dumped at various assembly points on empty stomachs after the event.
Soon after the solidarity event, NewsDay visited the assembly points where Zanu PF supporters from outside Harare were camped and witnessed stranded youths pondering their next move after they were left to find their way back home. Others said they were arranging with their families to send them money for transport.
The youths were gathered at Rufaro Stadium, Raylton Sports Club, East 24, National Sports Stadium and at an open space adjacent to the South African Embassy.
“We spent the whole day without having proper food and we only ate the food we took for the journey to Harare. We came here under the assumption that there would be food, but we were not given any. We were told we were supposed to have made our own arrangements,” a disgruntled Zanu PF youth from Manicaland, who refused to be named, said.
“Many people have gone to their relatives to be given food. Our worry is that they will get lost or they will not be here on time before we leave,” he said.
In other centres, people were just milling around waiting for promises made by their leadership concerning food.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF deputy youth secretary Kudzanai Chipanga said his executive would meet soon to assess challenges faced by party members and work out modalities to assist them.
“We will be given a briefing today (yesterday) about yesterday’s (Wednesday) event. If there are others who faced challenges, then we will assist at the national level,” he said.