BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/SYDNEY KAWADZA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday left Zanu PF supporters with egg on the face after they blocked the road he was supposed to travel on, only to find that he had taken an alternative route on his way to meet villagers in Mashonaland Central province.
Chamisa’s meet the people tours in Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland West provinces were met with violence amid claims that the ruling Zanu PF was mobilising its supporters to block him.
Yesterday in Rushinga, Mashonaland Central province, scores of Zanu PF supporters had gathered at St Mary’s and Chimhanda, holding placards, intending to block Chamisa and his convoy from passing through en-route to Rushinga growth point to address MDC Alliance supporters.
Police also reportedly mounted several roadblocks with the aid of Zanu PF youth along the Harare-Rushinga Road.
Sources told NewsDay that motorists endured lengthy delays at roadblocks as police demanded national identity documents at checkpoints.
The sources also added that Chamisa’s advance team met Chief Makuni who cleared his visit to the area.
But Chamisa instead went to Mount Darwin East, where he met villagers.
Zanu PF Rushinga MP Tendai Nyabani had allegedly paid US$100 to over a dozen touts and vendors at Rushinga growth point for them to participate in anti-Chamisa protest.
He allegedly also distributed fliers with anti-Chamisa messages.
But Nyabani dismissed the claims when NewsDay contacted him for comment.
“I did not pay them money,” he said curtly. “Who told you?”
Mashonaland East acting provincial police spokesperson Naison Dhliwayo referred questions to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, who was not picking calls.
“When they thought we were yet to get in the area to address our supporters, we were already gone. We left them holding placards with no one to protest against. Yes, there were obstacles,” Chamisa told NewsDay.
“There was tight security at roadblocks, but that did not stop us from meeting the people. The outreach was successful, very successful. Just like our previous visits in other provinces, the people were expecting us in Rushinga and Mt Darwin East. They welcomed us. We are satisfied.”
Chamisa said he would continue his outreach programme despite threats on his life. and Zanu PF supporters blocking him from meeting his rural supporters.
“You must remember that they have tried every trick in the book of dictatorship, and every tactic or manual of intimidation and elimination. They nearly killed me at the airport and even recently in Bikita,” Chamisa said.
Chamisa was beaten unconscious at the now Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in 2007 when he was about to leave for a meeting of the European Union and Africa Caribbean Pacific in Brussels, Belgium.
“These things are not new, but what surprises me is the determination by those who understood that the liberation struggle was about the emancipation of the people and were subjected to the same tactics they are using against us,” Chamisa added.
“Bullets that were used against them are being used against us. The creation of no-go areas and zones, barricading of roads was used against them and they are using the same against us. The Law Order and Maintenance Act was used against them and now they use Maintenance of Peace and Order Act.”
The attacks against Chamisa have occurred at a time when Mnangagwa has come under the spotlight for cracking down on the opposition.
“It’s clear that they are borrowing from the template of oppressor having learnt nothing and forgotten nothing about oppression.
“The way out of the dictators is the same; nobody who fights against the people succeeds. Smith (Ian) tried it and failed, Idi Amin and others tried and failed and I have no doubt that this one will again fail.”