Zimbabweans across the political divide have condemned violent demonstrations staged by suspected MDC-Alliance members in Chitungwiza on Saturday and described them as retrogressive.
The demonstrations rocked St Mary’s and left vendors’ stalls, wares and a ZUPCO bus, among other properties damaged.
Business came to a standstill at Chigovanyika Shopping Centre as demonstrators, who were burning tyres, clashed with the police.
Police had to fire teargas to disperse demonstrators who had blocked roads.
At least 11 MDC-Alliance youths have since been arrested in connection with the violence.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the youths involved were mobilised by some senior opposition party officials.
He warned members of the public against acts of violence, intimidation or harassment of innocent individuals, groups and businesspersons.
Political analyst and prominent lawyer, Mr Obert Gutu, condemned the violence, urging Zimbabweans to shun lawlessness.
“As Zimbabweans, we must love each other regardless of political affiliation,” he said.
“Take America, for example, if it faces any kind of challenge, the citizens put aside their political differences and unite for a common purpose. Why can’t we do the same?
“I am always saying every Zimbabwean has a constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully. However, people should know that the emphasis is on the peacefulness of the demonstration and also that those rights are not absolute.
“The moment those youths started damaging property, including the ZUPCO bus, which I saw on social media, the demonstration ceased to be peaceful.”
Secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) Cde Victor Matemadanda strongly condemned the violent demonstrations and called on all citizens to love each other.
“There is no normal person who can support any form of violence. It destroys, hinders and disrupts production, which is key to development.
“I am surprised that these people allegedly from opposition parties are saying they want people’s lives to be better, yet they are disrupting business. Some people are busy doing their businesses, but someone is busy destroying that.
“Government is working towards improving the transport situation across the country, but some people are destroying the same buses, which should ease transport challenges.”
Business at Chigovanyika Shopping Centre has since returned to normal.
Vendors have also condemned the acts of violence, saying such tendencies, if not stopped, would cripple the economy.
“This should not be allowed to continue, we are going nowhere as a nation and Government should not tolerate this anymore,” said a vendor who preferred anonymity.
“We abandoned our stalls and tables to save our lives simply because there are other people who hate peace. I am not into politics, but to be honest, I voted for an opposition party thinking it was the best.
“I am regretting my vote because these people are violent and are clueless on what should be done after losing elections. I had to run for dear life when all this was unfolding.”
Another vendor selling second-hand clothes narrated how it all happened.
“I saw a group of youths marching with placards from the eastern direction of this shopping centre,” he said.
“What surprised me was that there were some very young people in front, marching. That was the most terrible sight.
“I imagined my 10-year-old son being used like that in things that he does not even understand.
“The group was dispersed when the police arrived. Government should not allow this to continue. Our children cannot be used by these politicians. As a parent, I strongly condemn it and have a strong dislike of any kind of violence.”