Zimbabwean minister’s aunt killed in election violence

Prisca Mupfumira

Zimbabwean tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira has confirmed that her aunt was killed when she was caught in the crossfire during clashes between the military and MDC Alliance supporters in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday.

“She was innocently coming from work and was caught in the crossfire. Imagine finding out through social media, and identifying her body through the dress she was wearing lying down,” Mupfumira said via a WhatsApp message, seen by TimesLIVE, which was sent to her colleagues.

Mupfumira is adamant that her aunt was not part of the group of MDC Alliance supporters, but she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mupfumira attended her aunt’s memorial service in Chinhoyi on Thursday.

She said her family wanted to see justice done and for those responsible for the mayhem that resulted in her aunt’s death arrested.

Zimbabwe police commissioner General Godwin Matanga confirmed that at least three people were killed when soldiers clashed with MDC Alliance supporters in Harare. This after an angry mob barricaded some of the city’s main roads and attempted to burn the ruling Zanu-PF’s headquarters.

The supporters were demanding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) immediately release the presidential elections results as they believe their leader, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, was the winner.

The ZEC has been delaying the release of the results, which prompted many to claim they were busing rigging the outcome to give Zanu-PF leader and Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa victory.

Matanga and Mnangagwa have blamed Wednesday’s violence on the MDC Alliance and promised to launch an independent probe, while Chamisa has blamed the army for using excessive force and live ammunition to quell the protest.

On Thursday Mnangagwa confirmed that he had reached out to Chamisa in the hope of diffusing the volatile situation.

In a series of tweets, from his official account, Mnangagwa wrote: “This land is home to all of us, and we will sink or swim together.”

On Thursday, the military took control of the streets of the capital as police invited MDC Alliance member Tendai Biti and the party’s youth leader, Happymore Chidziva, to help them with investigations into Wednesday’s incidents.

Scored of armed police and soldiers were patrolling the streets of Harare and the capital was calm again. Most shops and government offices were closed as most people were advised to say at home for their own safety.

Home affairs minister Obert Mpofu held a late night press conference on Wednesday where he also blamed MDC Alliance for the violence and claimed the party was “testing our resolve – and I think they are making a big mistake”.

Mpofu listed a number of incidents were MDC Alliance leaders allegedly spoke of the need for violence in Zimbabwe.

He added that there was “no explanation whatsoever for the brutality that we saw”. Yet he admired that soldiers “are trained to kill during war”.

Observers from the Commonwealth on Thursday criticised the military’s use of force to break up MDC Alliance supporters.

“We categorically denounce the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians,” former Ghanaian president John Mahama said in a statement on behalf of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth also urged the ZEC to expedite the announcement of the results of the presidential vote. The observers had on Wednesday reported a number of problems with the poll, including voter intimidation.