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Zimbabwe Police Arrest 15 Activists for 'Illegal' Political Activity

Zimbabwe police on Monday arrested 15 members of the MDC formation headed by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, including three councilors, in Tsholotsho district accusing them of holding political meetings without clearance.

They will be charged under the widely-condemned Public Order and Security Act, the party said. Police were not immediately available for comment.

Among those detained are councilors Abel Dube, Petros Mahonondo and Rhoda Ncube; party secretary for Matabeleland North, Robert Mgezelwa Ndlovu and provincial spokesman Minutewell Ncube.

The party condemned the arrests saying its activists had not called any gatherings but were actually on a door-to-door membership recruitment, which did not oblige them to seek police authorization.

"The MDC is disturbed at the continued harassment of our members by police," said spokesman Nhlanhla Dube in a statement. "Efforts by our detractors will not derail our quest for a just and a fair Zimbabwe."

Police have over the years been accused of using POSA to target MDC politicians and civil society groups critical of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, whose members are rarely subjected under the law.

Efforts by MDC parliamentarians to repeal the legislation, or have it amended, have faced stiff resistance in the ZANU-PF-dominated Senate.

Political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda commented that the MDC arrests were an indication that free political activity remains a mirage in the country.