VIOLENT scenes erupted at Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial headquarters, Davies Hall, yesterday when rival groups clashed during a provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) meeting.
The violence saw provincial youth league chairperson Cde Anna Mokgohloa being assaulted by war veterans, while Bulawayo Central District chairperson Cde Magura Charumbira was stabbed in the head and face.
Youths and war veterans laid an almost six-hour siege at the hall while Central Committee members, Politburo members, provincial executives and legislators were holed up inside.
Anti-riot police had to be called in to control youths who were trying to stop the executive from holding the meeting, accusing the provincial leadership of supporting under fire national commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere.
Cde Kasukuwere is accused of fanning factionalism and forming parallel structures in the party.
Central Committee member Cde Butholezwe Ngwenya and party youths Cdes Cosmas Ncube and Maqhawe Sibanda were arrested following Cde Charumbira’s attack.
By end of day yesterday, police were reportedly still rounding up youths involved in the violent clashes.
When our Bulawayo Bureau arrived at Davies Hall at about 10am, police were struggling to contain a group of violent youths that was forcing its way into the hall where the provincial executive led by provincial chairman Cde Dennis Ndlovu was holding a meeting.
The youths, who were chanting slogans, throwing stones into the hall and smashing windows, said they wanted to stop the meeting as they did not recognise the provincial executive.
During the melee, some youths threw pepper spray into the hall, choking provincial executive members inside.
Cde Ndlovu said Cde Charumbira and a group of youths have been disrupting meetings claiming they did not recognise him and his executive.
“We’ve cancelled a number of meetings following disruptions, threats and violence at Davies Hall by some of our youths. We even cancelled a meeting yesterday because of their threats. Today we decided not to abandon the meeting because we need to move forward as a party and were expecting Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
“We decided to call the police and continue with the meeting. My position is that I didn’t receive any formal communication regarding Cde Kasukuwere. I therefore can’t take any position or make any decision as the provincial chairman,” said Cde Ndlovu.
He said their provincial meetings were constitutional and they will continue conducting party business until they go for elections.
Cde Ndlovu said during yesterday’s meeting, the executive resolved to suspend the women’s league provincial chairlady Cde Eva Bitu and the secretary for transport Cde Nokuthula Sibanda as well as the deputy provincial commissar Cde Douglas Gangaidzo.
He said the three were suspended for organising a meeting while President Mugabe was addressing the nation at the National Heroes Acre, calling for co-ordinating meetings without the chairman’s knowledge, destabilising the party and mobilising violent demonstrations to disrupt meetings.
The three, Cde Ndlovu added, will receive their official letters pending disciplinary hearing.
Cde Mokgohloa said she sustained injuries on the forehead and on the leg after being attacked by war veterans.
She said the war veterans chairman Cde Cephas Ncube accused her of being Cde Kasukuwere’s prostitute before attacking her.
“He called me Kasukuwere’s prostitute and said I will soon follow Cde Sandi before grabbing my breasts. He said he was looking for a knife that he claimed I was hiding between my breasts. He claimed I had given the weapon to Cosmas Ncube to stab Charumbira.
“I tried to run away but he overpowered me. He teamed up with other war veterans to beat me up and they injured my forehead and leg,” said Cde Mokgohloa.
Cde Charumbira told our Bureau that he was attacked by youths who accused him of organising demonstrations against the provincial executive.
“They attacked me with stones and knobkerries. Cosmas Ncube stabbed me with a knife. This was after they accused me of mobilising people to demonstrate against the chairman and his people.
“We’re having a lot of problems as a province and these issues should be resolved once and for all. These include the formation of parallel structures by Cde Kasukuwere through the provincial executive, co-opting of executive members in the youth league and imposing of executive members,” he said.
Cde Charumbira and the youths spent about five hours trying to gain entry into the hall but failed as the riot police armed with shields, batons and dogs manned the entrance.
The youths calmed down when the Officer Commanding Bulawayo West District Chief Superintendent Mthokozisi Manzini-Moyo held a brief meeting with them outside the hall.
The executive members eventually dispersed at about 3pm under police escort. Pamela Shumba. herald