Elita Chikwati and Ellen Chasokela
The inter-ministerial committee appointed by President Mnangagwa to assess damage caused by recent violent protests organised by MDC-Alliance and its affiliates visited various places in Harare yesterday, where victims gave heart-rending accounts of what transpired.
The committee is led by Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and seeks to come up with a proposal on how best Government can assist the affected people. There will be similar tours in other parts of the country.
The team comprised Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister Ndlovu, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry and Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana.
They toured Machipisa Shopping Centre in Highfield, Southlea Park Police Station, the Skyline tollgate and Kamunhu Shopping Centre in Mabvuku.
At Zuva Machipisa Service Station that was destroyed by protestors and nearly set on fire, the committee members were confounded by the damage.
The service station’s manager, Ms Annah Muchakati, said they incurred a loss of $101 000.
“The rioters comprised of children in school uniforms and adults covering their faces with (pantihose),” she said.
“Children were leading the protests. They were well organised and the instructions came from the adults. They pulled down the pumps intending to torch them.
“They removed fire extinguishers and started playing with them. They looted groceries from our shop and ransacked the tills looking for
cash. They wanted to torch the the service station, but police arrived in time to serve the situation. These were determined people.”
Pride Tontora of K and K Wholsalers and Retail at Kamunhu Shopping Centre said all his stock was looted.
“They looted Choppies and then proceeded to our shop where they brought down the door and started looting,” he said. “We are having problems in re-stocking. We have abandoned our wholesale business and now we are operating like a retail because our stock is very little.”
A Zimbabwe National Roads Administration official at Skyline tollgate, Ms Dorothy Chivhange, said the mob had axes and iron bars.
“They stole stole the computers and burnt our back offices and part of the tollgate structure,” she said. “They used a vehicles to carry away our water tanks and doors they removed from the structure. The violent protestors also removed the boom gates and took away forex, bond notes and an upright refrigrator which was later recovered from Southlea Park.
“They brought petrol which they used to torch the tollgate. We are now living in fear and who was on duty on the day is still tramatised.”
ZRP Mbare District’s Superintendent Patience Kutyauripo said they failed to control the protestors because they were outnumbered.
“The protests started at a roadblock along Chitungwiza Road, stealing the roadblock equipment, coming down to Mbudzi round about where they blocked the traffic circle,” she said.
“The value of the goods destroyed in Mbare District was $288 610.”
Minister Ndlovu said they expected to come up with mitigatory measures to assist businesses that suffered from the violent protests.
“Maybe as early as the following Cabinet meeting, we will be able to announce the kind of interventions that we are bringing,” he said. “Zimbabwe is open for business and we wouldn’t allow hooliganism to close Zimbabwe.
“As Government, we are concerned, we want to find ways in which we can assist our businesses to come back on line. When these businesses are closed, it is the ordinary people who are suffering because they need these groceries on a daily basis.
“Those who suffered damages should seek recourse at the courts. We know the organisers of these demonstrations and they have a duty and responsibility to make sure that the demonstrations are done within the confines of the law, failure of which they have to take responsibility. Our responsibility is to rescue people.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the demonstrations were organised by criminals who had intentions to loot and destroy, as evidenced by the destruction of surveillance cameras by the protestors.
“These are evil people who organised these violent disruptions,” she said. “They wanted the children to be right in front so that whatever happens will affect our children.
“Government is concerned about what happened in the country and it should not happen again. Zimbabweans are known to be peace loving people. President Mnangagwa is known for promoting peace, emphasizing on boosting the economy and the creation of employment opportunities.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said people had the right to demonstrate, but should do so according to the law.
“What happened shows that these were criminals who wanted to sabotage the Government and make it difficult for it to govern,” she said. “They think they can change the Government that was chosen by the people and appoint anyone from the streets. These were organised demonstrations.”
Minister Coventry said she was concerned with the participation of youths in the demonstrations.
“The youth were involved and it’s now up to us to figure out how we all come together to give them practical and constructive things to do.” she said.
“Having our youths involved in violence is not acceptable. We love this country and we want to do good things.”
Source : The Herald