Lloyd Shunje in Mutare
MUTARE – Rowdy Zanu PF and MDC Alliance supporters yesterday, July 12, came to Mutare Museum and disrupted an elections debate organised by the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN).
The debate was meant for all the 10 Mutare Central constituency parliamentary candidates and members of the public, but moderator Violet Gonda had to call it off after spirited attempts to control the unruly party supporters failed.
Candidates that had turned up for the event are Innocent Gonese (MDC Alliance), Nancy Saungweme (Zanu PF), Apross Mushunje (ZIPP), Marvin Rumugwe (MDC- T), Tendai Samupindi ( PRC), Emmanuel Mauya (NCA), Patrick Chidhaka (Independent), Nathan Zimbudzi (Pre Zim Party Congress) and Allan Parunobva (Coalition of Democrats).
Tensions started when Zanu PF supporters booed Gonese after he was asked to introduce himself.
In retaliation, MDC Alliance supporters booed Saungweme when he was asked to introduce himself, leading to the brouhaha.
The candidates had to leave the venue after Gonda's efforts to return the house to order failed.
Speaking after the abortive function, Gonese said there were elements in the crowd that had been rented to discredit him.
"It was a planned thing; 30 seconds into my speech, there was already a pandemonium. The people who started it are from Zanu PF and our own people booed back," said Gonese.
Rumungwe said the playing ground was not fair, claiming money had exchanged hands to discredit others.
"These people are using their money to hire people to come and disrupt the likes of us who don't have money but have solutions for the constituency," said Rumungwe.
Mushunje urged fellow contestants to desist from hiring supporters for such kind of meetings.
"Those people were hired by the Alliance and Zanu PF as they took it to be a rally. We urge other candidates to educate their people about the importance of these meetings. We have lost a good opportunity for dialogue," said Mushunje.
Saungweme immediately left after the ruckus and could not be reached for comment though his supporters trooped out of the venue and gathered outside, singing their party's songs.
Gonda later told TellZim News that she was disappointed by the lack of civility displayed by some people at the event.
"We have held a similar debate in Harare with female aspiring presidential candidates and we have been to Bulawayo, but we have not seen such kind of behaviour.politics