Controversy over the decision by officials of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change to dissolve the formation's women's assembly was further fueled late Wednesday as police in southeast Masvingo detained 18 female members of the faction for four hours for allegedly holding a political gathering.
Those detained at Masvingo Central Police Station included Theresa Makone, tipped as the leading contender to fill the chair of the women's assembly of the MDC faction led by party founder Morgan Tsvangirai. The panel was dissolved early this month.
With Makone was Evelyn Masaiti-Matongo, wife of the late chairman of the faction, Isaac Matongo, and other top Masvingo women MDC activists.
Makone said the detention was unwarranted because the group was simply lunching at the Flamboyant Hotel and talking about a memorial service for Matongo.
Lawyer Tongai Matutu, representing the women, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that police overreacted by sending five trucks of officers bearing AK 47 rifles and batons when there was no political meeting in sight.
Matutu is the MDC faction's member of parliament for Masvingo Central.
Masvingo police officials could not be reached for comment on the incident.