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Zimbabwe Student Leader Charged With Treason In Anti-Mugabe Speech

Authorities in Zimbabwe have charged a student activist with treason for allegedly saying President Robert Mugabe must be removed by force if necessary.

Zimbabwe National Students Union General Council Member Mehluli Dube is accused of saying at a public meeting in August in Gwanda, Matabeleland North, that President Mugabe must be removed from office "by the ballot or by the bullet."

Police arrested him Saturday in Bulawayo weeks after he allegedly made the comment at a meeting of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition meeting in Gwanda.

Police had launched a manhunt for him after he escaped arrest at that meeting.

Dube, released on bail, is denying the charges.

Treason in Zimbabwe is punishable by death or life in prison. Founding president Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change faced treason charges in 2003 and 2004 for allegedly trying to overthrow President Mugabe, but was acquitted in late 2004. The late ZANU-Ndonga party leader Ndabaningi Sithole was convicted and sentenced to two and a half years, which however he never served.

ZimRights Director Dzikamai Machingura, one of the lawyers representing Dube, told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that he is confident his client will be acquitted.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo police on Monday arrested some 200 members of the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise who marched against what the group described as continual police harassment of its members and the general public.

The demonstrators were questioned for four hours then released in the evening with no charges brought against them, sources in the organization said.

WOZA National Coordinator Jenni Williams told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that her organisation faces continuous police pressure.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...