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Zimbabwe Opposition Members in Court Following Arrests for 'Illegal Meeting'

Opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change supporters arrive at the magistrate court for a bail hearing after they were arrested for unlawful gathering with intent to incite public violence in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 16, 2023.

Columbus Mavhunga

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Twenty-five members of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Citizens Coalition for Change, appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court on Monday on charges of holding an illegal meeting Saturday that police broke up with tear gas.

Among those arrested is Amos Chibaya, a member of parliament, who talked briefly to journalists before going into the court. He called the action harassment, and said it will come to an end. The dictator will go, he added, and the people of Zimbabwe will free themselves.

Fadzayi Mahere, spokesperson for Citizens' Coalition for Change, or triple C, said party members were treated badly by police during the arrests.

She said a girl, younger than 18, was among those arrested, and there also were complaints that some women were molested by police. She added there were rumors that the arresting police were drunk and threw alcohol at people. Police actions were not about arresting people who were committing a crime, Mahere said, but about inflicting pain on people because the ruling ZANU-PF party is afraid of losing the upcoming elections.

Zimbabwe is supposed to hold general elections this year, though the exact date has yet to be announced.

The ZANU-PF party and police refused to comment on the accusations when VOA reached out, saying the matter was now before the courts.

Magistrate Yeukai Dzuda has ordered prosecutors Pardon Dziva and Zebediah Bofu to investigate the complaints which triple C members raised against the police.

Meanwhile, the 25 opposition members will be back in court Tuesday to apply for bail, which the state is opposed to granting.