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17 Opposition Supporters Bailed as Political Violence Grips Zimbabwe

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu PF's Robert Mugabe. (AP Photos/Collage by Ntungamili Nkomo)

Seventeen members of the Movement for Democratic Change including Highfield East legislator Eric Murayi who were arrested Sunday in Hopley, Harare South, for allegedly convening an illegal gathering have been released on a US$200 bail each.

MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu told Voice of America on Wednesday that the bail by a Mbare magistrate in the capital was excessive by Zimbabwe’s standards.

“We are surprised because $200 for this kind of offense is a rather high figure, ordinarily bail should have been set in figures in the sum of $20 or at the very most about US$50 per person.”

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba says the 17 are being charged for contravening Section 37 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act for allegedly causing public violence and breach of peace.

Police had refused to grant the MDC-T permission to hold a rally alleging that they feared it would turn violent after Zanu-PF members allegedly attacked the party’s supporters at the same venue last week.

Political violence erupted again in Mbare on Tuesday when suspected Zanu PF supporters pounced on opposition MDC-T youths, leaving three seriously injured.

The clashes came after scores of MDC-T youths attended the hearing at the Mbare Magistrates’ Court, to support their colleagues who were in detention.

The three are the opposition party's Harare organising secretary Rhino Mashaya, youth affairs secretary for home affairs James Chidhakwa, and youth national secretary for security Keith Charumbira.

Gutu said two youth members were released from hospital Tuesday but one remains critical.

"Rhino Mashaya who was badly hurt, who lost four teeth and had a rib broken, was the one who was detained overnight and when l checked this morning, there was a possibility that he could be taken in for surgery."

Last week, violence erupted again at Hopley Farm after Zanu PF supporters allegedly besieged the venue of an MDC-T rally and fought running battles with youths preparing for the rally.

More than 13 people were injured in the skirmishes. On Sunday, more than 10 MDC-T supporters were injured after violence again broke out in Harare South between Zanu PF and MDC-T supporters.

Meanwhile, the daily privately-owned Newsday newspaper is reporting that intra-party violence erupted in Highfield on Tuesday as Zanu-PF youths traded blows during a restructuring exercise over the criteria to use in voting for party district executives.

The restructuring is in preparation for the party’s Victoria Falls conference next month and comes amid serious infighting between factions tussling to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

Two factions have emerged one allegedly backing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other the so-called Generation 40 or G40. The violence is said to have started Monday and continued Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the situation was said to be very tense. Zanu-PF Highfield West MP Psychology Maziwisa could not respond to VOA questions.

There was also violence in Manicaland over the weekend when party members fought in front of cabinet ministers.

The situation is said to be very tense in Masvingo and Mashonaland East as rival factions continue to trade barbs and engage in physical confrontation..

Efforts to get a comment from Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo were futile as his mobile went unanswered.

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