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Zimbabwe Opposition Raps Prison Chief Over Partisan Statements

The grouping of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed by Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday condemned what it called the “reckless and unmeasured utterances” of Prisons Commissioner Paradzayi Zimondi, who said he would not recognize the authority of an opposition or independent president.

Zimondi declared at an official function that he would not salute MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai or former ruling ZANU-PF party official Simba Makoni if either was elected president. Zimondi said he would order his subordinates to vote for President Robert Mugabe, and would resign and retire if the next president is not Mr. Mugabe.

The Tsvangirai MDC branch issued a statement saying most professionals in uniform are loyal to the wishes of the Zimbabwean people and do not support Zimondi’s sentiments. Zimondi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tsvangirai formation spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that his party would take up the matter with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Meanwhile, dozens of Tsvangirai supporters were arrested and beaten around the country on Friday, opposition sources said. In Harare Province, Saint Mary’s house candidate Marvellous Khumalo and eight other activists were arrested and one supporter identified as Tafadzwa was struck on the head with a hammer.

The nine Saint Mary's opposition members were still in custody late Friday.

In Chitungwiza, near Harare, about 10 youths were arrested for wearing MDC T-shirts and 11 others were arrested for campaigning door-to-door.

These incidents followed the abduction and beating on Wednesday of the Tsvangirai grouping's Manicaland Province spokesman, Pishai Mucharauya.

Deputy Organizing Secretary Morgan Komichi of the MDC formation told Patience Rusere that the police have not been educated on amendments to the Public Order and Security Act which relaxed restrictions on political campaigning.

Meanwhile, the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara suffered a setback this week as two of its candidates died. Glory Makwati, a candidate for parliament in Gwanda South, passed away Tuesday. Milton Milford Gwetu, the incumbent member of parliament for Pelandaba-Mpopoma, died Friday morning in Bulawayo.

Mutambara grouping Elections Director Paul Themba Nyathi said elections in both constituencies would have to be moved forward beyond March 29.

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