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Zimbabwe Police Charge More Tsvangirai MDC Members in Police Death

Party officials said a police crackdown on Tsvangirai MDC supporters was continuing, adding that a number of activists had gone into hiding

Eight more activists of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were arraigned before a Harare magistrate on Monday in the May 29 killing of a police office in the populous Glen View suburb.

Their arraignment brought to 20 the number of Tsvangirai MDC supporters facing murder charges in connection with the death of Inspector Petros Mutedza following a skirmish with alleged party activists said to have been holding an informal political meeting.

All the MDC members denied the charges, which they said were politically inspired.

Party officials said a police crackdown on Tsvangirai MDC supporters was continuing, adding that a number of activists had gone into hiding.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the crackdown is political, adding that the death of Mutedza should be treated as a criminal matter.

Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, meanwhile, stirred further political controversy in an interview with the state-controlled Herald newspaper. In a thinly-veiled attack on the MDC, Cihuri told the newspaper that the police “will not be part and parcel of people who promote the agenda of imperialists.”

The MDC has demanded Chihuri’s removal from office along with other security service chefs who have declared allegiance to President Robert Mugabe.

Political commentator Bhekilizwe Ndlovu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Chihuri’s conduct has been very unprofessional.

Elsewhere, state prosecutors on Monday called their last witness in the trial of Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, a unity government negotiator for the Tsvangirai MDC, who is accused of improper conduct in the purchase of fuel from a South African firm.

State Procurement Board Executive Chairman Charles Kuwaza testified that fuel could be purchased without following set procedures.

During cross-examination by Mangoma defense attorney Beatrice Mtetwa, Kuwaza admitted that state procuring entities could purchase goods or services without issuing a tender for bids depending on the urgency of the requirements, so long as the variance from procurement norms was explained to the state procurement board.

Kuwaza said it was not up to the minister to write to the procurement board to explain why fuel was purchased without a tender, but that of the permanent secretary, Justin Mupamhanga.

Mangoma has declared his innocence and the Tsvangirai MDC formation says the charges have been brought against him for political reasons.

State prosecutor Chris Mutangadura was expected to make his closing arguments on Tuesday.