By Idah Mhetu
POLICE have dismissed MDC claims gunshots were fired at party leader Nelson Chamisa and his entourage when the opposition chief was presiding over a party organised tree planting event in Marondera on Sunday.
Chamisa was in the tiny Mashonaland East farming town to commemorate the National Tree Planting Day which comes every 1 December.
His spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda later made sensational claims soldiers fired live ammunition at his boss and other members of the MDC.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi has since dismissed the claims saying only tear smoke was used on an MDC crowd that had gathered illegally at Dombotombo clinic.
“The organisers were advised to disperse and they refused to comply with police orders, in the process, police had to use tear smoke to disperse them.
“No live rounds or live bullets were fired. Anyone who claims that live rounds or bullets were fired at anyone or directed towards anyone, that is not a correct statement,” Nyathi said.
He appealed with political leaders, activists and members of the public to desist from holding what he said were illegal political gatherings.
“We appeal to members of the public, we appeal to activists and political leaders that they should tell the truth and also whenever they are organising activities, they should follow the due processes of the law so that they allow the ZRP to perform its duties without any hustles.
“It is really important that people recognise that in whatever activity people are undertaking, they have to follow the law in order for law and order to prevail on the ground,” Nyathi added.
Information Secretary Nick Mangwana took to his Twitter to also dismiss claims live rounds were fired.
“Police in Marondera had to deploy tear smoke to disperse an aggressive crowd that was closing in on them. This was after leadership of a political party tried to hold a rally at Dombotombo Clinic without notifying police. For the avoidance of doubt, no firearm was discharged,” he said.
It is however not the first time in a space of two weeks police have had violent clashes with MDC crowds.
Last month, anti-riot police were unleashed to beat up hordes of MDC supporters who had gathered outside the party headquarters in central Harare to listen to Chamisa’s “Hope of the Nation Address”.