At least 10 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Nelson Chamisa, who were arrested Saturday outside a senior party official’s residence in St. Mary’s, Chitungwiza, are expected to appear in court Monday, facing charges of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence.
According to state security agents, the youth had running battles with the police, resulting in the stoning of some houses and state-owned buses. Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests, noting that the MDC youth were engaged in an orgy of violence that led to some political disturbances in Chitungwiza.
Nyathi could not be drawn to give more details, saying he was attending to some pressing issues. The arrested youth are expected to also face charges of breaching peace or bigotry as defined by the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
MDC spokesperson, Daniel Molokele, says the party youth were arrested outside local lawmaker Job Sikhala’s residence where they were consulting him on the current deteriorating economic and political situation in Zimbabwe.
Molokele says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is no longer allowing the opposition party to hold public meetings and as a result youth are resisting such moves by defying all police orders.
“I think like other young people in the country, the youth yesterday (Saturday) were trying to get themselves organized and also discuss the worsening situation in the country in terms of the economic and so on and it’s their constitutional right. But what we see in Zimbabwe today is that the ED (Emmerson Mnangagwa) regime is on a panic mode, they are no longer allowing youth even Zimbabweans in general to gather in public, they don’t want them to exercise their freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of expression. Practically they have closed all part of democracy in this country.”
Sikhala, who is also the MDC’s vice chairperson, was recently acquitted of charges of subverting a constitutionally-elected government.
Zanu PF provincial committee member and former Tsholotsho senator, Believe Gaule, says police arrested the MDC youth in order to maintain law and order in Chitungwiza.
“There is a good reason why they were arrested. Police cannot go out there and start arresting people without any reasons. If they committed a crime then they must be arrested.”
State security agents shot and killed at least seven people in Harare last year during protests over fuel price increases of up to 150 percent. The army gunned down six other innocent civilians in 2018 following protests over delays in releasing presidential election results.
A commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalame Motlanthe condemned the army for killing the civilians and recommended that relatives of the deceased should be compensated. The government has not do this amid concerns of civil unrest due to the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe.