via Riot police deployed at Bhasikiti’s offices | The Herald 13 November 2014
Over 30 riot police officers have been deployed to guard Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti’s offices at Benjamin Burombo Government Complex, amid fears of impending demonstrations against him by war veterans.
The police officers in full riot gear are now manning the entire Benjamin Burombo complex, where Minister Bhasikiti’s offices are housed, on a daily basis from 8am to 4pm. Sources said the riot police were deployed to protect Minister Bhasikiti in the event the war veterans try to stage a violent demonstration against him.
Minister Bhasikiti yesterday said he did not know why the riot police were deployed.
“I was also surprised to see the riot police here at Benjamin Burombo, but I believe they are on high alert because of political developments that are currently taking place,” he said. “There is a lot of political activism that is occurring these days and that might be the reason why the riot police is here.’’
Masvingo acting provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Kudakwashe Dhewa said he was not sure why the riot police were deployed.
“I will have to find out why they are there, but I think they will be just on a routine patrol, remember there are quite a number of informal traders who operate close to the complex, so those police officers in question might be on patrol,’’ he said.
Masvingo war veterans’ provincial vice chairman Cde Charles Muchena confirmed that war veterans in the province planned to demonstrate against Minister Bhasikiti.
Cde Muchena said they had already applied for police permission to stage the protests, adding that they will go ahead with the demonstrations even if they failed to get clearance.
He said war veterans were not happy with the treatment given to illegal settlers in Masvingo East after their homes were torched by police for invading black-owned farms.
“We are not happy with the treatment given to families who were staying in some farms in Masvingo East after their homes and property such as seed was torched by police as they evicted them,” said Cde Muchena. “We feel Minister Bhasikiti as the head of Government in Masvingo is in charge of all security organisations such as the police and we suspect the burning of those houses had his blessings.”
Cde Muchena said most of the 300 families who were evicted after the torching of their homes were now paupers after they lost most of their personal possessions.
Government evicted the illegal settlers from more than 10 farms in Masvingo East after an audit revealed that the farms in question were owned by black people.
Only settlers who occupied the farms before 2004 were given a lifeline after the Masvingo provincial leadership led by Minister Bhasikiti resolved to resettle them at Magudu Ranch in Chiredzi.
A few years ago, war veterans in Masvingo staged a sit in at the then provincial governor Cde Titus Maluleke’s offices at Benjamin Burombo Building and vowed to stay put until their grievances were attended to.