MASVINGO – Residents in nearby suburbs were forced to inhale chocking smoke as anti-riot police fired teargas canisters at Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters few moments after party leader Nelson Chamisa had finished addressing a campaign rally at Mamutse Stadium, Masvingo.
The commotion started just after Chamisa left the stage.
The tear smoke affected residents in Old Railways and Chesvingo suburbs.
The incident was torched by initial attempts by some top police officers to stop the opposition presidential candidate from addressing the rally after the time slot allocated for the gathering had reportedly lapsed.
The officers, according to reports, were blocked by the opposition leader’s security personnel and supporters from accessing the podium during his address.
After being blocked, the police retreated only to come back later armed with tear smoke canisters, truncheons and aggressive dogs.
They found the CCC supporters unrelenting as they stood their ground to allow Chamisa to finish his address.
The contention was that Chamisa’s rally was supposed to end at 4pm, but it had extended by an hour after the CCC leader arrived late from another rally in Chiredzi.
In his address, Chamisa appealed to the police to exercise restraint and not be dragged into partisan politics; and playing god in the country’s electoral processes.
“I understand that the police are trying to stop this rally from continuing on account of time,” he said.
“I know it’s not your fault. You are receiving instructions, but let me say an outgoing government should never be more powerful than an incoming government, so police please remain professional and not be used for politics.”
Commenting over the incident, CCC candidate for Masvingo Urban, Martin Mureri described the police action as barbaric.
“We do not condone that barbaric act. Police should respect citizens,” he said.
“Nomatter how bad the situation can be, police should just use their powers to arrest and not indiscriminately fire tear smoke. Innocent people have been affected by the tear smoke.
Tensions remain high in the country ahead of crunch elections set for 23 of this month.
Police and the judiciary have been accused by Zanu PF opponents of bias towards the ruling party.