By Thabani Zwelibanzi
Police officers late on Friday evening raided MDC’s Harvest House in Harare ostensibly to search for machetes, as the party is accused of sponsoring gangs that are wreaking havoc across the country.
The police officers obtained a search warrant from the magistrates’ courts, which allowed them to search for machetes and subversive materials.
The warrant said there was reasonable suspicion that the machetes and the unnamed subversive materials could be used to commit public violence.
Witnesses said MDC employees were barred from leaving the building, while lawmaker, Joanna Mamombe was blocked from driving away in a car.
A small crowd gathered, but the police officers moved in swiftly to disperse them, threatening to come down heavily on the curious group of people.
MDC’s headquarters, now known as the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, are in a busy section of Harare, with a supermarket nearby and several shops, while the area is often teeming with vendors.
It was not immediately clear why the police suspected that the MDC could be in possession of machetes and subversive materials, but curiously, hours before the raid, government spokesperson had tweeted a picture of a man carrying a machete, with the opposition party’s banners behind him.
Mangwana tweeted: “Are the machete gangs lawlessness random criminals or they are in the hands of politics? Thankfully the @PoliceZimbabwe is bringing sanity to our communities.”
Machete gangs, mainly from mining communities are allegedly committing atrocities throughout the country with impunity.
Earlier in the day MDC said it had gathered intelligence that the police were plotting a raid on its offices.
“We have gathered from impeccable sources within the regime that the police intend to [lay] siege [on] Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House today in a desperate bid to plant machetes and justify their unwarranted crackdown on the party’s legitimate activities,” the party’s deputy spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said in a statement.
“We understand the police are seeking a search warrant in order to use their presence at the headquarters of the people’s party so as to plant machetes and portray the MDC as a criminal organisation.”
Last year, police officers raided a building next to the MDC headquarters where they found helmets, which they claimed the party wanted to use to unleash anarchy while impersonating law enforcement agents.
After a media circus, it later emerged that the helmets had been bought by a private businessperson from a police auction.
MDC treasurer, David Coltart described the police’s actions as “an attempt to implicate the MDC in violence and to provide a pretext for a further clamp down on the MDC, as Zanu PF did to Zapu in the 1980s. The truth shall come out though and the world knows which party and people are the godfathers of violence in Zimbabwe.”