Harare (AFP) – A senior official of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change who has urged its leader Morgan Tsvangirai to step down, said he was beaten up by party youths on Saturday.
The party’s deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma told AFP he was assaulted and slightly wounded after a meeting at the party’s headquarters in central Harare and in the presence of Tsvangirai.
“I was coming out of the meeting when I was attacked,” he said in a telephone interview. “The youths at the gate beat me with clenched fists and booted feet.”
“I had a bloodied nose from the beating,” he said while his spectacles were broken and shirt torn when an undisclosed number of party activists pounced on him.
Mangoma, a former energy minister, caused a stir last month when he asked Tsvangirai to quit office following a crushing electoral defeat by President Robert Mugabe in last year’s polls.
He had written a letter to Tsvangirai saying the party was “in dire need of new ideas” and “new stimulus”.
Mangoma said that after Saturday’s meeting Tsvangirai had escorted him, but the former prime minister stopped as he was about to step out of the building and he came under attack.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the party would investigate the attack.
“We do not know what happened. We are going to fully investigate this case, as a party we do not condone violence,” Mwonzora said.
But Mangoma concluded that the attack was a sign of “intolerance in the party” following his suggestion that Tsvangirai resign.
Tsvangirai has scoffed at calls to step down, insisting he will stay on until 2016.
He has led the MDC for 15 years and through three presidential elections.
Many had believed the 2013 election would be his last shot at dethroning the shrewd Zimbabwean strongman, who will turn 90 on Friday.