People run at a protest as barricades burn during rainfall in Harare. January 14 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
People run at a protest as barricades burn during rainfall in Harare. January 14 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Harare — Members of the ruling Zanu-PF party were behind some acts of violence committed during Monday’s deadly riots, the Harare Magistrate’s Court has heard. 

Since the start of the riots, the government has repeatedly blamed the opposition MDC for the violence that erupted as Zimbabweans demonstrated against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement of a hike in fuel prices.

At least five people have died since the protests began. 

To date, 600 people have been arrested for the violence including MDC organising secretary Amos Chibaya and popular pastor and activist Evan Mawarire. 

Seven Zanu-PF youth league members appeared in the  magistrate’s court on Wednesday after allegedly torching a bus during the demonstrations. 

According to court papers, Benson Bhobho, Zanu-PF youth league chairperson for ward 40 in Whitecliff, Harare was charged with public violence together with members of his executive Charles Bengeza, Shylock Chihuri, Emmanuel Chari, Cassim Muzhingi, Rumbidzai Dulana and another person identified as Noleen.

“Pursuant to their plan, the accused stopped a Zupco bus which was proceeding to Harare and ordered the bus crew and all passengers to disembark.

“Emmanuel Chari drove the bus off the road and parked it about 40m away, where he and his colleagues set it on fire.

“The accused looted various groceries from the shop and set ablaze a Mitsubishi pick-up truck which was parked at the service station, leaving it to burn to ashes,” the papers stated.

On Wednesday night state security minister Owen Ncube blamed the MDC for the violence, urging those who lost property to seek damages from the Nelson Chamisa-led opposition party.

“Government places responsibility for compensation for victims of the violence, destruction of property, injury and loss of life on the MDCAlliance and all its associates.

“Government wishes to advise all those who were affected that Zimbabwe law allows them to seek redress from perpetrators and organisers. We therefore urge all whose property was destroyed, goods looted to quantify the damages incurred and report to nearest police stations.

“This should serve as a lesson to all those who are bent on causing chaos and mayhem in the country, that your actions will not go unpunished. You are liable to pay compensation to the affected people,” Ncube said.