ZANU PF youth league members who were involved in violent skirmishes that characterised elections at Queen’s Hall in Mutare last week, are trading accusations over who caused fights to break out.
The violent scenes erupted during vote counting of ballots cast to replace former Mutare district coordinating committee (DCC) secretary for youth, Danmore Mambondiani who recently assumed a post in the national executive.
Insiders told NewZimabwe.com Nyasha Mutenji, who contested Tatenda Tsiga for the post, hired thugs to disrupt the polls after a defeat from the latter.
Mutenji polled 11 votes against Tsiga’s 21 votes.
Mutenji however, said provincial executive, Clyde Jani was responsible for engineering the fist fights, adding they broke out after he had questioned whether Tsiga had the five years’ experience needed to contest Mambondiani’s post.
“Jani’s ally, Raphael Mutandi started to beat youths from my ward and that’s when the mayhem started.
“When I went outside the hall, Jani came and threatened to beat me though I resisted. I only respected Jani although he kept on coercing Mutandi to attack me.
“Why would Jani want to interfere with our district elections, yet he is a provincial member?” said Mutenji adding that he was not aware of the actual results since the elections were abandoned midway.
Jani refuted the accusations, saying he only went to Queens Hall in order to quell the fight after being tipped off that Mutenji’s colleagues were attacking youths.
“I was not there, but I heard that during the vote counting process a youth called Masikiri (Mutenji’s ally) kicked the table with an aim to destroy the ballot papers.
“Mutenji promised youths US$300 each and cellphones if they voted for him. With the help of Makaya, Mutenji gathered youths at Valley Lodge a night before the polls, where they were later offered US$100.
“The youths were handed US$40 cash while the remaining balance would be paid after the polls.
“Vote buying contributed to the violence as Mutenji demanded his money back from youths after losing the race,” said Jani.
Mutare DCC chairperson, Binali Yard downplayed the violence as a minor dispute, which however comes at a time both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga are pushing for their loyalists within party structures ahead of their party’s congress later this year.