DESPITE government claims that it is adhering to democratic tenets as required by the Sadc protocol on elections, there are allegations the police are making overzealous arrests and stifling oppos
Police last Wednesday arrested Bindura MDC candidate Joel Mugariri and the party’s Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Tsapera Macheka for putting up campaign posters in their constituency. They were taken to Bindura police station where they were quizzed and released without charge.
The arrest came hardly 24 hours after the release from police custody of Shamva MDC candidate Gofrey Chimombe and two opposition youths, Mika Jack Jumbe and Cleopas Muchenje, who had been arrested on Tuesday for putting up MDC campaign posters.
In Manyame, violence flared up last week when 11 MDC youths distributing campaign fliers were assaulted by a group of alleged Zanu PF thugs. Their campaign material, which included T-shirts, posters and fliers, were burnt by the Zanu PF mob. The incident happened at Renharm primary school, about 50km out of Harare along Lomagundi Road.
Last week, the government condemned the European Union’s decision to extend economic and diplomatic sanctions on Mugabe and several ministers for failing to maintain democratic rule. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said the EU had no justification for imposing sanctions in the first place, saying they were based on “lies and propaganda against Zimbabwe”.
But human rights activists, opposition politicians and church leaders say the sanctions have come too late to counter the violence, intimidation and draconian laws that have already done much to help the ruling party manipulate the election.
Two weeks ago, a group of soldiers attacked MDC officials coming from the launch of their party manifesto in Masvingo.
Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena this week denied the reports, accusing the MDC of making “false allegations” on the attack by soldiers of three MDC candidates in Nyanga. MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi on Wednesday stood by the allegations, saying his party was deeply disturbed by the refusal of the police to properly investigate the incidents in question.
“The actions of the police thus far in the election campaign have served to further erode public confidence in the electoral process and further undermine its legitimacy,” Nyathi said.