About 300 Zanu PF supporters, with the help of the Zimbabwe police, allegedly violently disrupted Norton by-election independent candidate Temba Mliswa’s rally at the Ngoni Stadium on Saturday.
Mliswa’s rally had the backing of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) with Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru expected to address the thousands of people who had thronged the venue.
Mliswa’s aide Josephine Mukute told the African News Agency in a telephone interview that the police, instead of ensuring that the Zanu PF supporters did not get anywhere near the stadium, prevented the independent candidate’s supporters from entering the stadium and fired teargas at them.
“Temba had a court order but Zanu PF supporters came to disrupt the rally and instead of protecting us, the riot police fired teargas and dispersed our supporters.” Police had contravened the court order as they were supposed to maintain peace and stop the Zanu PF supporters from interfering with the rally. “Instead, they blocked us from entering the venue and teargassed us,” she said.
The Zanu PF supporters were outnumbered but had the support of the police who locked Mliswa’s supporters out of the stadium.
“Our supporters did not even get into the stadium as they were prevented by the police and we had to postpone the rally for the safety of our supporters,” she said, adding that the rally would be rescheduled for Sunday.
MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa, who had come to support Mliswa at the rally, said his car and Mliswa’s car had been damaged in the clashes that ensued as the Zanu PF supporters attacked them. The MDC-T had mobilised its supporters to go and support Mliswa, he said.
Riot police were reportedly going around beating up people at drinking spots and shopping centres in and around Norton.
Zimbabwe police Mashonaland West spokesman Inspector Clemence Mabweazara refused to comment on the matter, saying he was not on duty.
“I am not at work today and I cannot comment on that.” He said there was no one in the province who could comment until he returned to work.
Cases of political violence have been on the rise in Norton as the by-election draws near, with Mliswa’s supporters on the receiving end.