Maize furore

HARARE Thousands marched on Town House on Friday, seeking an end to the slashing of maize that was at tasselling stage in Kuwadzana by the MDC run council.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party has traded barbs with police and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo over the slashing of the maize. The move has dangerously escalated tensions. The MDC denies ordering the slashing of the maize, saying it was actually a ploy by Chombo and the police to sully the MDC.

Police spokesman James Sabau has accused the MDC of using police as a scapegoat, accusing the MDC city fathers of making false allegations against the law enforcement agency. The police spokesman said the MDC must own up to its actions. Police have apprehended and detained 16 council workers who slashed the maize. The workers have said they were instructed by

the MDC Council to slash the maize, he said. Insp Sabau added. As police we never issued such instructions to anyone and we dont ask for assistance from council, we dont operate that way.

An estimated crowd of 500 marched on Town House, with several marchers holding signs reading Masunda tipe chibage chedu, referring to Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, while others read: Taneta nehuori hwekanzuru and Hatibhadhare mari dzekupenga.

Mayor Masunda, the object of many marchers jeers and protest signs, watched from behind his lectern but did not address the protestors, who handed a petition. Harare spokesman Lesley Gwindi declined to comment on the march, which the MDC said turned violent. The MDC said in a statement that Tsaurai Marima, the MDC Harare province secretary and the Budiriro ward 33 Women Assembly organising secretary, Stembeni Chademoyo, were assaulted during the demo. The MDC said the protestors were “unruly Zanu PF hoodlums.”

“Marima who was at the Town House attending to some private business was attacked after Zanu PFs Politburo member David Karimanzira identified him and ordered the youths to assault him. Chademoyo was beaten for donning an MDC T-shirt and assaulted her with clenched fists and booted feet. She was left half naked after the Zanu PF youths tore her Tshirt. She was rescued by passers-by who gave her a top. The two are receiving treatment at a Harare Hospital,” the MDC statement said.

At a brief news conference later, a spokesman of the marchers said the event marked an incredibly powerful day.

Everybody here is struggling, so to have this council slashing maize of people suffering is so wrong, said Pauline, who lives in the Kuwadzana neighborhood where the maize was slashed. The MDC says Chombo is on a drive to sabotage their party by stirring hostility to find pretext of overthrowing elected MDC councils and replace them with commission stuffed with handpicked Zanu PF cronies. Chombo denies this and says the MDC councillors have shown shocking propensity toward corruption and were incompetent bureaucrats.

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