Tribal clashes rock anti-Mugabe protests

Johannesburg, Political intolerance among Zimbabwe's pro-democracy parties saw a demonstration against Robert Mugabe by the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations, Zapu and Mtwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) disrupted and teargas thrown by the police to disperse the crowds who had become rowdy.

The demonstration  was disrupted midway after serious tribal and partisan sentiments started being echoed against selected speakers who wanted to address the crowds. 

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The commotion resulted in the MLF burning an MDC T-Shirt.

The demonstration which started with a march, with protesters singing revolutionary songs, was being held near the venue of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trade meeting which will discuss the Zimbabwe crisis on the sidelines. Deliberations on Zimbabwe were only expected late in the evening on Saturday.

A group of people dressed in Zapu regalia protested being addressed by a Shona person, that resulted in the proceedings being disrupted. Tribal jingles were also sung demonising certain tribes.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), national spokesperson, Madock Chivasa, lamented the behaviour as unfortunate.

“It is unfortunate that we have to witness people in the pro-democracy movement fighting among themselves due to tribal and political differences,” he said. “We had initially been impressed by the unity of Zimbabweans but these disruptions are a clear indication of behaviour we have to root out in our broad movement.”

When the demosntration began it had appeared there was unity. David Magagula of the MLF said his party had made a resolution to join forces with other Zimbabweans as they shared the common agenda. “We are here for one cause as Zimbabweans, we are fighting from one angle and we are all united to fight the dictator,” he said.

Busani Bhalagwe of Zapu reiterated similar sentiments saying: “We are all gathered for the restoration for our country and that resolution should be representative and all inclusive.”

The demonstration was organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in partnership with other leading civic organisations.

Zanu (PF) was expected to stage its own demonstration later in the day.