BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
A GROUP of about 20 suspected Zanu PF youths yesterday stormed a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiCZ) annual general meeting (AGM) that was being held at a Bulawayo hotel, assaulted participants, and vandalised property.
When NewsDay arrived at the scene, the rowdy gang had already left, but several delegates who were at the meeting were visibly injured and in pain.
A participant said the youths pounced at the hotel, overpowered the security personnel at the entrance, and stormed into the main conference room where the meeting was taking place.
It is alleged that the sudden attack on CiCZ members happened soon after Obert Masaraure (Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president) was elected as spokesperson of the coalition, while Gamuchirai Mukura had been elected treasurer.
The meeting was disrupted before the election of chairperson and the vice-chairperson.
“They began attacking all the participants without explanation,” the witness said.
CiZC outgoing chairperson Rashid Mahiya said they were holding their elective AGM when the youth budged in and disrupted the proceedings.
“At exactly 3:30pm we were told that there were Zanu PF youths who wanted to gain entry into our meeting room. We asked for hotel security to keep them out, but they were overpowered by the youths.
“We continued doing business until the youth got into the room and started beating up people. They threw chairs and desks all over the place. Some of the participants were women and people with disabilities,” Mahiya said, adding that the meeting had to be adjourned as people scurried for cover.
He said the violence erupted in the presence of police officers, but not a single member of the gang was arrested.
“In fact, they (police) are coming after us as the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, yet our meeting is properly constituted and is observing all the regulations that are supposed to be observed. We have seen some interest in our meeting as we seek to elect new leadership to the coalition, a new leadership that will address the governance, political violence and corruption crisis that we have in our country,” Mahiya said, adding that the coalition would not be intimidated by rowdy elements.
CiCZ members said the violence signified what would characterise the 2023 elections.
But Zanu PF Bulawayo chairperson Obert Msindo professed ignorance over the attack.
“I have not heard anything concerning this issue,” Msindo said.
Bulawayo police provincial spokesperson InspectorObert Msindo also said he had not yet received the report concerning the matter.
“I am no longer at the office, but when I left, I had not heard of such a report,” he said.