POLICE yesterday briefly arrested, detained and charged MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai with disorderly conduct for touring shops in Harare last month
to assess the impact of a government directive to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to slash prices of goods and services by 50%.
Tsvangirai was detained at Harare Central police station for two hours before he was charged, fingerprints taken and released.
The police said they would proceed with Tsvangirai’s case by way of summons.
The MDC leader — who arrived back home from an official visit to Australia on Monday — was accompanied to the police station by a team of lawyers led by Alec Muchadehama of Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni.
Muchadehama confirmed that Tsvangirai was charged with disorderly conduct as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
“He was charged and released. Tsvangirai is denying the charge,” Muchadehama told the Zimbabwe Independent.
Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said he was not aware of Tsvangirai’s arrest.
“I am hearing the case from you for the first time. If he was arrested and charged, I am yet to be briefed,” Mandipaka said.
When Tsvangirai toured one of the wholesale stores affected by the government price slash, he was confronted by Jocelyn Chiwenga, wife of Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga, who went on to assault freelance photographer, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi.
Yesterday, the MDC condemned Tsvangirai’s arrest.
“The MDC condemns the overt Zanu PF machinations to abuse the police to settle political scores with those who are genuinely fighting for democratic change in Zimbabwe,” the party’s information department said in a statement.
“It is ironic how the police can describe a tour of shops and supermarkets as disorderly conduct. In any case, the charge is a violation of president Tsvangirai’s constitutional right to freedom of movement, conscience and association, among other basic freedoms,” the department said.
“The MDC is aware of the regime’s anger at its failure to solve the current economic problems. Zanu PF should refrain from the onslaught on law-abiding citizens and instead concentrate on addressing the economic decay and the visible signs of collapse around us.”
The party called on the government to desist from what it termed a preoccupation with arresting victims of the current political and economic crisis bedevilling the country.
“The primary concern of any caring government lies in improving the lives of its citizens and not arresting innocent people simply because they decided to assess the magnitude of the national crisis,” the opposition said.
The party said it remained unmoved by the latest “intimidatory antics” of the government.