Riot police officers move to the first floor of the building after searching the basement. [Pic: Ronald Magweta]
BY BLESSED Mhlanga
HEAVILY armed police raided the MDC headquarters yesterday evening armed with a search warrant for machetes and other dangerous weapons, but left empty-ended according to party lawyers.
MDC deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka claimed the raid was part of a Zanu PF ploy to plant dangerous weapons in the party offices and later clamp down on its leaders.
“As we speak they are flooding into our headquarters in line with their cheap and dastardly ploy to plant machetes in a vain attempt to portray the MDC as a criminal organisation. Zimbabweans know better that it is Zanu PF that is behind MaShurugwi and all the violence in the country. This illegitimate regime is going to laughable extents to expose itself,” said Tamborinyoka.
Part of the search warrant read: “From information on oath, that there is reasonable grounds of believing that there is possession of or under control of occupiers or upon in Harvest House or Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House certain articles that is to say machetes and any subversive materials, which are concerned or on reasonable grounds believed to be concerned in the commission or suspected commission of a crime.”
MDC lawyer Gift Mtisi said the police found nothing during the raid, but indicated that feedback would be given by their superiors.
“They said the feedback will be given through Police General Headquarters (PGHQ). They searched and left,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the MDC had issued a statement claiming they had picked intelligence of the raid ahead of time.
“We have gathered from impeccable sources within the regime that the police intend to siege Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House today in a desperate bid to plant machetes and justify their unwarranted crackdown on the party’s legitimate activities. They are on a desperate witch-hunt and are frantically seeking to portray the MDC, the people’s party, as a rogue organisation,” the party said.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commission Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment last night.
This is not the first time police have raided the opposition party’s headquarters in search of “subversive material”.
The raid came as MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has vowed to go ahead with his planned party meeting at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, Harare on Tuesday, with or without police clearance. The opposition leader plans to use the occasion to launch the party’s programme of action for 2020 following a police clamp down on its activities since last year.
On Thursday, MDC organising secretary Amos Chibaya met the party’s Harare provincial leadership, districts and the youth wing for a mobilisation and strategic planning meeting ahead of the planned Mbare rally.
“We are not pulling any stops, for now it’s all systems go. The president (Chamisa) will deliver the party and national 2020 agenda,” he said.
“So we have activated all our structures to mobilise so that we have a bumper crowd. All our Harare provincial and district leaders attended the meeting because this time the address will be delivered.”
Chibaya said the MDC had noted with concern that police were employing bullying tactics by deploying heavily at its party offices.
“They want to use the show of force to scare us, but we are a party of peace and therefore not deterred by heavy police deployments. Maybe they have come to realise that the MDC is the home of the legitimate president so they are providing him with security,” said Chibaya.
The police have since denied targeting the MDC, saying they are only doing their duties of protecting all Zimbabweans and maintaining peace and security in the nation even for the benefit of the MDC.
The MDC said although they were yet to be given the green light to host their event Tuesday, they met with the police on Thursday and all appears to be on course.
“We are yet to be cleared, but we met them yesterday (Thursday) and we agreed on a lot of things, everything seems okay, but with those guys, you never know, you just never know,” Chibaya said.
However, government has warned Chamisa against being confrontational.
Early this week, Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi warned Chamisa that he would be arrested if his intention was to overthrow an elected government.
“No one is above the law and as such the law will catch up with him if he tries to behave in a manner not befitting his position as leader of the opposition. We will not fold our hands and allow him to continue with his sinister agenda,” he said
“There are many opposition leaders who have tried this and failed in many countries. In many countries like Venezuela, Uganda, Kenya and many other countries the opposition has tried to dislodge popular revolutionary parties without success. Chamisa needs to learn from those examples.”