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Prime Minister’s Wife Struggles to Access Chikurubi Prison

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife, Elizabeth, was Wednesday temporarily barred from entering Chikurubi Maximum Prison where she was visiting 29 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists charged with the murder of police inspector Petros Mutedza in Harare’s Glen View suburb last year.

Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone told VOA prison officers refused to allow the prime minister’s wife to get inside the building saying she had not been cleared by prison authorities.

Makone claimed that she was cleared in advance to visit the prison with any official of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

She said Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu, who also accompanied the group, sent a letter to the Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai Zimondi indicating that they were planning to visit Chikurubi Prison.

Makone noted that there was no response from Zimondi’s office before they went to the prison Wednesday.

Prison officials were not immediately available for comment.

The minister said it took more than an hour for the officers to allow the group to visit the prison complex with Mr. Tsvangirai’s wife.

Makone said it was also clear that the prison officials do not respect the prime minister’s wife “because if it was Amai Mugabe she would have been escorted with or without having given any notice”.

She said: “I think this is about a show of power - to demonstrate that you guys might think you are in government with us but you are not there … We do not even recognize you.”

Deputy Information Minister Murisi Zwizwai was part of the group that escorted Mr. Tsvangirai’s wife to the prison complex.

Elizabeth has actively participated in social and party events since her controversial marriage to Mr. Tsvangirai last month.

A week ago, she attended a hearing of the 29 detainees at the High Court a few days after her wedding.

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