A ZANU PF meeting to discuss the District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections disintegrated into an all out brawl on Thursday, as tensions between rival factions came to a head in Nyanga.
Scores of people sustained minor injuries. Police in riot gear intervened and managed to separate the warring factions. No one was arrested.
While skirmishes are common in ZANU PF's messy politics, Thursday morning's incident at the Nyanga Country Club appeared to be particularly violent and marks an escalation in the showdown between the political camps of Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mujuru is the Vice-President while Mnangagwa is the Defence Minister. The fight came a day after the former ruling party postponed a crucial politburo meeting to look into the crisis that has flared in seven of the party's ten provinces following the controversial DCC elections.
A journalist in Mutare told SW Radio Africa that the scuffles erupted after rival supporters converged on the country club for a scheduled meeting with political commissar Webster Shamu.
One group supports Moses Gutu, who won the DCC elections and is linked to Mnangagwa, while the other is behind Teddy Chipfumba, the loser in the district chairmanship poll. Chipfumba is believed to be from the Mujuru camp.
'There has been a lot of tension in Manicaland following accusations that the Mnangagwa camp has been imposing candidates, as well as intimidating and rigging the elections. So the gathering in Nyanga brought together the feuding parties and before Shamu arrived for the fact finding mission an argument developed into a fist fight.
'The reason was differences of opinion regarding the conduct of the DCC elections. In the midst of the rowdy arguments, punches were suddenly raining on people and it was at this juncture when things broke loose. The party members went for each other free-for-all which lasted for close to 10 minutes,' the journalist who asked not to be identified said.
Other terrified members took to their heels and scampered to safety as senior party officials could only watch in disbelief. Order was eventually restored when the police riot squad moved in to quell the violence, allowing the meeting to go ahead when Shamu eventually arrived.