Zimbabwe police arrested more than a dozen members of the pressure group Restoration of Human Rights outside Harare High Court on Wednesday as they staged a protest of the continued detention of eight activists of the Movement for Democratic Change accused of killing a policeman in May.
Members of Restoration of Human Rights held placards protesting inequities in the Zimbabwean justice system when police moved in and arrested the 13 activists.
The protest was timed to coincide with what was scheduled to be a hearing for eight members of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai accused of killing police inspector Petros Mutedza in a clash in the Harare suburb of Glen View.
The 13 ROHR activists were peacefully demonstrating and were not singing or chanting when police took them into custody. A placard read: “Why are murderers of 2008 walking free on the streets?”, referring to the last election seriously marred by violence.
Their lawyer Gift Mutisi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Violet Gonda that he had not had access to his clients and did not know what charges they would face.
Restoration of Human Rights spokesman Stendrick Zvorwadza criticized the arrests of his colleagues, accusing the police of selective application of the law and calling for urgent reform of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
His comments came a few days after alleged ZANU PF militants’ invaded Parliament and assaulted Hwange Central legislator Brian Tshuma and two journalists at a hearing on enabling legislation for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
Police have not announced any arrests in connection with that incident.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya similarly commented that the selective application of justice shows why there is need for security sector reform.
He said the MDC formations in government must exercise their authority to show the country that they are equal partners in this government, "otherwise we will associate them as passengers and it does not augur well for the unity government."
The bail hearing of the eight MDC activists was postponed to Thursday because state prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba failed to appear in High Court.
The activists have denied the accusations and their party says the charges are political.
In Parliament, meanwhile, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa engaged in a debate during question time over controversial political statements by senior army and other security force officials.