It emerged this week that police had rounded up mainly known MDC-T activists in Masvingo West following a government-sanctioned clampdown on illegal mining activities at Kimberly and Kismet ranches, in an attempt to weaken the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that wrestled the seat from Zanu PF during the 2008 harmonised polls.
At least 150 suspected illegal miners, mostly MDC supporters were arrested and locked by police following a brutal crackdown in the gold-rich Masvingo West in what is believed to be an attempt to reduce the influence of the former opposition party which gave President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party the sternest challenge to his vice-like grip rule since independence.
Zanu PF Masvingo special interests and self-proclaimed war collaborator Namatirai Chivanga together with her acolytes linked to a faction led by presidential aspirant Emmerson Mnangagwa,is reportedly behind the operation to lock up MDC supporters in Masvingo West in an attempt to weaken the former opposition party.
Chivanga has reportedly started campaigning in Masvingo West in the event of fresh elections next year as revealed by President Mugabe and wants to muscle out the MDC’s Tachiona Mharadze Chiminya who is the sitting legislator.
‘’We were just told point blank to go and arrest MDC supporters who were identified to us by members of the Zanu PF youth league who accompanied us to carry the operation against illegal panners. There was no choice for us because during the crackdown the youths(Zanu PF) openly told us that some of the panners who we wanted to arrest were sacred cows and were supposed to be left out,’’said a policeman who took part in the operation against the illegal panners but refused to be named for fear of reprisals.
MDC’s Chiminya confirmed the arrest of his staunch supporters in Masvingo West under the guise of a clampdown on illegal mining saying the operation was an exercise in futility.
‘’There is a clear strategy to weaken the MDC in the Masvingo West by targeting our supporters and as I speak right now they arrested over 100 MDC supporters under the guise of trying to rid the constituency of illegal panners. However I must point out that the MDC will never surrender and will triumph against all sorts of evil and malicious operations,’’said a fuming Chiminya.
Masvingo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Prosper Mugauri refused to comment and referred all the questions to the police headquarters in Harare.