Members of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai continued to flee their homes in the Glen View suburb of Harare on Friday as police expanded arrests in connection with the May 29 death of a police inspector, allegedly at the hands of Tsvangirai MDC activists.
The MDC has denied that its supporters committed the crime, but at least 20 members of the former opposition party have been arraigned on murder charges in the killing.
Sources said police Police had expanded the crackdown to the nearby suburb of Budiriro where they arrested Harare City Councilor Sydney Chirombe and two other activists.
MDC sources said about 60 people have been arrested in the campaign.
The police, state media and the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe blame the MDC for the death of Zimbabwe Republic Police Inspector Petros Mutedza.
The MDC says he was the victim of a barroom brawl unrelated to politics.
Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told VOA Studio 7 reporter Chris Gande that police are using the Mutedza death as an excuse to crack down on the party.
Police were said to have taken over a house owned by a councilor who fled the suburb and to be directing Glen View operations from there. Some of the residents who have fled Glen View were said to be living in the nearby hills.
“The sad thing is that they are not fully accounted for," Mwonzora said. "Some of them are just taken to the police station and whether they are released or not we don’t know but most of the people from Glen View have fled their homes."
In eastern Masvingo province, meanwhile, violent clashes between ZANU-PF factions have prompted the Harare party leadership to dispatch retired Brigadier General Henry Muchena to restore internal peace. Divisions in the province have worsened since President Mugabe indicated that he wanted elections to be held this year.
Muchena told ZANU-PF members in the Bikita West constituency this week that the party had sent him to Masvingo to end intra-party divisons.
Factionalism in Masvingo has become so pronounced that there are currently two party offices in Bikita West - one at Nyika Growth Point, another at the Bikita district offices. The two offices are staffed by ZANU-PF officials from different factions.
Muchena said party supporters who ignite violence will be dealt with severely as this has negatively affected the party in previous elections. He warned that the party will expel those fanning factionalism regardless of their positions in the party.
The retired general said the coming election will be tough given the challenge posed by the MDC formation of Prime Minster Morgan Tsvangirai. Therefore, he said, ZANU-PF must go into the polls as a united party, correspondent Obert Pepukai reported.