Zimbabwean police have arrested Charlton Hwende, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Member of Parliament for Kuwadzana East, who arrived in the country Tuesday.
Hwende, who is also the MDC’s national deputy treasurer, was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport barely three days following the locking up of Joanna Mamombe, the party’s MP for Harare West.
Mamombe is facing charges of attempting to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Mamombe was today remanded to March 19 as the magistrate insisted that she was convinced there was reasonable suspicion that the lawmaker committed a crime. Lawyers are now proceeding with bail application at High Court.
Hwende has not yet been formally charged. Police were not reachable for comment.
In a statement, the MDC said, “Hon. Charlton Hwende was arrested this morning at the airport on his way from Namibia. Hon. Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North MP) also spent days in prison only to be released on bail this (Tuesday) morning.”
The MDC further claimed that the justice system has been hijacked by the executive. “It is sad for justice in Zimbabwe as the pattern of irrational remand of MDC leaders continues. The military state now has designated courts and special Magistrates taking direct instructions from politicians in Zanu PF. That a magistrate can agree that the words “invitation to a peaceful march” and “dress in black” constitute reasonable suspicion of commission of a crime boggles the mind.
“A competent court of law which fails to declare what is in the constitution is retrogressive and ceases to serve the purpose of its existence. Hon. Mamombe was over-detained, arrested by an individual who is clearly not a police officer and could not even ascertain his identity before the court, a man who could not repeat the rights he claimed he had advised the court of.”
The MDC claimed that her arrest violated her rights. “The arrest of Hon. Mamombe was clearly in violation of her rights and illegal, there is no basis to formulate an opinion that she intended to subvert a constitutionally elected government. Placing her on remand is shocking.
“The public has lost confidence in the justice delivery system because of such conduct, the judiciary must remain independent as it is the soul of a constitutional democracy.”
The party said resources are being invested in partisan cases. “… We urge the Judiciary Services Commission to put a stop to such insanity. Those who are supposed to be pursuing representational, oversight and legislative agenda are spending half the time either fearing for their life or in prison … That cannot be normal.”
The government is blaming the MDC for allegedly spearheading anti-government protests early this year, which left over 12 people dead and thousands locked up.