The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
ELEMENTS believed to be linked to the opposition, MDC-Alliance that has called for nationwide demonstrations this week against the Government early yesterday morning raided and petrol-bombed war veterans offices in Bulawayo where records and other property belonging to the ex-fighters were destroyed.
No one was injured in the attack. The Bulawayo provincial war veteran offices are situated in Entumbane suburb. The MDC-Alliance and its surrogate organisations have called for nationwide demonstrations starting on Friday this week despite the fact that such previous demonstrations were marred by violence that resulted in the wanton destruction of property across the country.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the war veterans offices bombing in a telephone interview.
“We can confirm that there was an attack on the war veterans’ provincial headquarters in Bulawayo early this morning (yesterday). What happened is that the caretaker suddenly saw that the whole office was on fire and he alerted the treasurer of the association through the phone.
“A report was made to the police and the Fire Brigade attended the scene and it was established that the attack emanated from a window that was broken and somebody threw a petrol bomb inside which damaged records and property belonging to the association,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police investigations were in progress and called on members of the public who might have information on possible suspects to come forward so that investigations could proceed smoothly.
Sunday News visited the office yesterday where the caretaker, Mr Ntokozo Ncube said he did not see the person who threw the bomb but was shocked to see that the office was on fire.
“I was doing rounds at the offices at about 2am when I noticed a fire coming from the back office and I alerted Mr Lucas Ngwenya who lives in nearby houses to assist me in putting out the fire. Some of the neighbours came out to see what was happening. We opened the office from the front and found documents that were on the office desk and curtains already burning and we used water to extinguish the fire,” he said.
The container with the petrol was found inside the office on the floor partially burnt. Some of the property that was destroyed included several documents, curtains, office furniture, windows and bags of clothes that were stored in the office.
“I did not see anyone at that time, neither did I see a car or anything out of the ordinary. I only saw the fire burning and alerted elders who were nearby to help in putting out the fire,” he said.
Commenting on the incident, the war veterans chairman for Bulawayo Province, Cde Cephas Ncube who was also at the offices together with some members of his association after learning of the incident said they were yet to issue a statement about the bombing.
“At the moment we are waiting for the last batch of investigators who are coming to see the offices then we can issue a statement on the bombing. We will comment in due course as war veterans. We are letting the police do their work,” said Cde Ncube.
Sources in the security establishment said the attack could be a pre-emptive strategy by the MDC-A and its surrogate NGOs who are bent on creating disharmony in their bid to unlawfully topple the constitutionally elected President Mnangagwa.
The sources said MDC-A officials and its affiliate organisations recently held a meeting in Kariba where strategies to cause mayhem were mapped out.
“From the meeting the strategy was to target Zanu-PF buildings, war veterans installations such as offices and offices of prominent Zanu-PF officials and businesspeople. Each member who was recruited to do the attacks was promised US$800. The Entumbane attack might be the beginning of putting into motion their tactics,” said the source.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said the Government will deal with elements who are bent on disturbing peace in the country accordingly.
“I am ready to deal with unruly elements who want to cause alarm and despondency in the country. Members of the public are accordingly implored to remain calm and not be swayed into joining any violent conduct by the opposition under the pretext or guise of a ‘peaceful demonstration’,” he said in a statement.
Cde Mathema said he was advised by the police that the MDC-Alliance has made several notifications to regulating authorities in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and other urban areas to hold demonstrations on 16, 19 and 20 August.
“As Government, we are quite aware that there are political machinations to have these purported demonstrations turned into violent episodes through the use of overt and covert means. This includes the use of workshops by some non-governmental organisations, executive meetings by the opposition political groups and labour organisations,” he said.
Cde Mathema said he has also observed social media posts where several threats and intimidatory tactics have been issued.
He said the situation on the ground indicated that a lot of underhand activities under the guise of “peaceful demonstrations” were taking place with the view of fomenting violence, destruction of property, looting and attack on innocent citizens, motor vehicles, private property and Government buildings.
Cde Mathema said the Government has a responsibility to protect citizens from unruly elements and will not renege on its responsibility.
MDC has also reportedly recruited even street kids to embark on destruction and looting of shops in return for goodies.
The street kids are reportedly being picked up in unmarked vehicles in urban areas around the country.
Cde Mathema also said some foreign nationals, masquerading as tourists were already in the country to work closely with the MDC in the demonstrations.
“Let me remind foreigners who are clearly dabbling in local politics that Zimbabwe is a sovereign State and will not allow people disguised as tourists to come and promote anarchy and destruction of property in the country,” he warned.