Seven Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) functionaries are battling for their lives at Harare’s Avenues as a result of the attack while five party vehicles and its public address system were destroyed.
“We were unable to do this rally because of incredible acts of violence, wanton violence, and malicious violence that we have suffered at the hands of Zanu-PF,” party Secretary General Tendai Biti later said at a hastily arranged press conference at the party headquarters in central Harare.
MDC-T youths who were at the venue at the time of the incident said Zanu-PF youths accosted the party staff Sunday morning and demanded that they stop setting up their equipment which was in preparation of the rally.
Zanu-PF youths claimed they had booked the venue for a football match the same morning.
A battle ensured as MDC-T youths tried to repel the advances of their assailants.
Zanu-PF youths quickly retreated only to come back later with more youths travelling on four hired kombis.
“They started throwing stones at us from outside up until they gained entry into the stadium. They beat us up and as I speak, some of our colleagues were seriously injured and have been taken to Avenues Clinic for treatment,” said the youth who cannot be named as he is not allowed to speak to the press.
The MDC-T peace rally had been sanctioned by the police under the Public Order and Security Act, which compels organisers of public meetings to inform the law enforcement agents before such meeting are held.
Biti said the party will not be “seduced” into retaliation as a result of the increasing acts
of violence against the party.
“We as a party will remain committed to non violence despite provocation,” he said.
“We swore when this party was formed on the 11th of September 1999 that we will pursue a non violent democratic constitutional way of achieving democratic change in Zimbabwe. Nothing that happened today, nothing that happened last week, nothing that happened in 2008 will sway us from this path.”
The violent disruption of the MDC-T rally comes just a week after Tsvangirai’s Matebeleland North rallies and government tours were disrupted by police despite court rulings ordering the contrary.
Zanu-PF supporters have also disrupted public hearings that were conducted by parliament.