Crackdown on MDC
By Bridget Mananavire,
HARARE – A crackdown on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s supporters has followed the bombing of Zanu PF offices in Gweru, prompting the MDC to charge that authorities are using the incident to decimate the party ahead of polls.
Police in Gweru arrested three MDC activists yesterday on accusations of involvement in the bombing of Zanu PF offices in the city.
The MDC denies responsibility and says the bombing is an inside Zanu PF job.
About 30 heavily armed police pounced on the unsuspecting activists around 0300 hours and dragged them into custody, according to senior MDC officials.
They were yet to access lawyers by the time of going to print last night.
MDC MP for Mkoba Amos Chibaya confirmed the arrests.
“Police raided my house at three in the morning looking for one of the guys, who is my cousin, thinking he was at my house. They continued their raid and arrested three of our activists,” said Chibaya.
The crackdown signals the start of a string of attacks on people non-aligned to Zanu PF.
Police drove 80 priests of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) from Peterhouse Girls College near Marondera on Tuesday using harsh security law, the Public Order and Security Act.
The priests were on a prayer meeting. CPCA has been in property wrangles with Zanu PF loyalist, Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, whom the church says enjoys police protection.
Observers fear the arrests of the MDC activists will weaken the strength of joint rallies proposed by leaders of the three political parties in the Government of National Unity (GNU) scheduled for next month in a bid to urge their supporters to refrain from violence and promote political tolerance.
Police yesterday denied the arrested three MDC activists, Douglass Tsuro, 28, Wonder Marange, 40, and Silus Mutendeudzwa, 41, access to their lawyer, Reginald Chidawanyika for the whole day. It was unclear by last night what charges the trio would face.
“The only briefing I got was that they were suspects in the bombing of Zanu PF offices but I have not had access to them,” said Chidawanyika.
He said the only concrete information he had was that his clients were under interrogation at the station.
No-one was injured when the Zanu PF offices were bombed on December 27 last year, but that has not stopped the party from blaming the MDC.
Frequent arrests of MDC officials and supporters have attracted widespread criticism of the police by churches, civil society groups and other political parties for alleged selective application of the law.
In October last year, MDC headquarters, Harvest House, was attacked but no arrests have been made relating to the bombings to date.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti’s Chisipite house was also bombed in June last year but no arrests were made with police saying nothing had come out of the investigations on the bombing.
Chibaya said: “The arrest of the three is nonsensical because these guys were not in Gweru at the time of the bombing.
“It is an instruction from Zanu PF. What would one want from an empty office?
“This is a cover up of Zanu PF’s internal fighting. The factions within the party are battling as they are about to get into a restructuring process,” he said.
“The bombing is clearly an inside job,” said Chibaya.
MDC Midlands provincial chairperson Lilian Timveos said the police accusations were baseless because they had not carried any investigations.
“It is unfair that everything that happens against Zanu PF is said to have been done by MDC. The police should do their job and investigate the matter, not go around arresting MDC activists like they are doing,” she said.
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