BULAWAYO – Violent clashes erupted yesterday at the MDC party offices after a dozen party youths stormed the meeting that was being addressed by deputy president Thokozani Khupe.
The violence erupted around mid-morning, disrupting the meeting dubbed “coalition agreement feedback” for almost an hour in a fracas that left one injured.
Office windows were shattered as the angry youths stoned the building. The main auditorium was littered with broken glasses and blood, with stones all over the floor.
When the Daily News arrived at the party offices, party youths could be seen manning all corners of the building to beef up security as the meeting progressed.
According to a memo sent to the national executive, yesterday’s meeting was supposed to be attended by national and provincial executive committee members from Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North to discuss the coalition agreement and way forward.
The violence follows an agreement inked between MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and six other opposition leaders that Tsvangirai be their presidential candidate under a unified banner.
According to witnesses, a truck carrying about 15 youths descended at the meeting where they confronted Khupe over her decision to hold an “unsanctioned” meeting after boycotting the grand coalition launch in Harare.
Khupe, national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe and chairperson Lovemore Moyo did not attend the launch of the grand coalition in the capital, but were at yesterday’s Bulawayo meeting.
Reporters were barred from covering the meeting but Bhebhe later told journalists that the “thugs” had indicated to them that they had been sent by Tsvangirai.
“We are a democratic party and democracy should prevail.
“We are all shocked somebody sent a team from Harare to come and beat us up. That team came in the name of the president. We are going to confront the president and ask him why he will send a team to beat us up. We want to find out,” Bhebhe said.
As Bhebhe was briefing reporters, Khupe could be overheard addressing those in attendance that she was not happy with the way they were being treated.
“It’s clear we are nothing in the MDC. We are in this party at their benevolence,” Khupe said.
“The MDC is what it is today because of the Matabeleland vote but this is how they treat us.
“This meeting was authorised by Bhebhe and Moyo and who are they to then question why we are holding this meeting, and disrupting it.
“My heart bleeds over this incident, especially noting all our sacrifices that have made Tsvangirai to what he is today,” she fumed.
Khupe is on record saying there was no need for a coalition in Matabeleland as the party has been performing well during elections in this part of the country, adding that such a deal was only relevant in Mashonaland provinces.