Violence runs in MDC DNA: Chaibva

by Tawanda Musariri

Founding member of the MDC and former MP for Harare South Gabriel Chaibva has claimed that the party has systems of violence and indeed has weapons of war.

Chaibva was giving his eye witness evidence in the violence that broke out on the streets of Harare as confirmed MDC supporters ran amok demanding results of the presidential election before the expiry of the elections announcement window. The mayhem, according to Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Muchineripi Runganga, the police officer commanding the investigating team to the August 1 scenes, left 6 people dead, resulting in 41 arrests. All the 41, suspected and confirmed MDC arrested supporters, who include Tendai Biti, all appeared before the courts, charged with inciting public violence.

Director Legal Department in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mr Never Katiyo said the violence of the day soiled the image of the country, derailing the Zimbabwe reengagement efforts with its political and economic friends. He said it is ironic that the ugly and damaging scenes came amid the promotion of the Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra which sought to make the country attractive to international capital.

Detective Chief Inspector Runganga said the MDC instigated violence saw eight cars burnt to ashes, another eight damaged in various ways and degrees, a further 15 vehicles damaged inside the CBD and 48 shops vandalised with a clear intention to loot.

Chaibva chronicled how the MDC started receiving funding to train a special militia named the Democratic Resistance Committee (DRC) with the sole aim of unleashing terror. The intention of the militia was to destabilise and or unseat the Zanu PF government. Chaibva told the Commission that the failed 'final push' of 2002 was one such effort designed by the militia.

Chaibva did not rule out the possibility of some deaths among the six which occurred on the date as having been caused by a discharged firearm in the hands of MDC youths who intended to fire back to the military.

The former legislator chronicled how senior members of the party who included Ambassador Trudy Stevenson, Peter Guwu and Edwin Mushoriwa missed death by a fraction of luck in internal violence in the party.

Chaibva did not mention the violence suffered by Thokozani Khupe, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma under the in-house violence arrangements of the party.

Chaibva has since left politics to front a non-governmental organisation seeking to promote peace, democracy and political fair play. The Free and Fair Foundation deployed 12 of its officers on the street during the day as part of their routine work in promoting their mandate during and after the election.

According to eye witness accounts from his officers, the military on the street used their fire arms with extreme caution and any deaths that occurred on the day were not resultant from the actions of troops encountered by the twelve, said Chaibva.

Chaibva also claimed some of the dumped bodies inside the mayhem could have possibly died at the hands of MDC supporters who wanted to create sufficient chaos to invite the international community to step in and effect regime change, an agenda which the MDC harboured since its inception. This agenda, said Chaibva, was to be achieved by any means necessary, lawful or unlawful.