Harare Protests

MDC offices set ablaze as fuel protests turn violent

Protestors block a major road leading into the city centre in Kuwadzana, Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 January 2019 after members of the public went onto the streets to protest over the recent fuel increase. Unconfirmed reports say four people have been shot and wounded by the police. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

The Morgan Richard Tsvangirai house, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headquarters in Harare, was set on fire on Monday evening. The arsonists, according to the party’s presidential spokesperson, stormed the opposition party offices and attacked the four security officers manning the building.

The incident was confirmed by MDC presidential spokesperson Dr Nkululeko Sibanda. Speaking to Daily Maverick, he claimed that it was the usual suspects from the ruling party who wanted to see the opposition party becoming bankrupt and unable to operate.

About 10 trucks, with more than 20 people, stormed our party offices, overpowered our four security officers who were on duty, used petrol to set the building on fire,” said Sibanda. According to Sibanda the security officers sustained injuries during the attack by the arsonists.

We have lost property and the fire has caused irreparable damage. Getting the building back into shape is going to cost the party hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Sibanda said.

He added that these were all efforts to ensure that the MDC was unable to operate and becomes insolvent. It’s a tactic that has been used before during the formative years of the party.

We certainly have a terrorist organisation in Zimbabwe, when they have a problem with managing the country they burn headquarters. They bombed MDC headquarters to destroy us, they bombed the Daily News out of circulation and now they have just burned Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (MRT) House,” said Sibanda.

The MDC attack happened on the first day of the three-day nationwide stay away, which was called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), the labour umbrella body, in protest over the increase in fuel prices announced by the country’s head of state on Saturday.

The new fuel price has been pegged at $3.11 and $3.31 for diesel and fuel respectively using the bond note and Real Time Gross Settlement.

The demonstration, however, turned violent as roads were barricaded, shops looted and vehicles burnt.

According to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), protesters have sustained gunshot wounds after being shot during the nationwide demonstrations

In its statement ZADHR said that by noon, 13 had been injured mainly in the high-density areas in Harare. More than 200 people are said to have been arrested and several were feared dead as the demonstration turned violent.

The MDC calls for regional powers to intervene, citing the use of arms by the security forces during the protests as worrisome. There have been fears of a repeat of the 1 August shoot-outs that caused the death of six people and injured many during a protest over the release of the presidential results during the Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised elections (presidential, parliamentary and council elections).

The Minister of State for National Security, Owen Ncube, said in a statement that the state had galvanised all its security organs.

Our security arms are now firmly on the ground tracking the criminals. They will be apprehended to face the full wrath of the law. In the meantime, security forces have arrested more than 200 individuals who were involved in these disturbances.” DM


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