THE Movement for Democratic Change has accused the police of launching a “massive crackdown” that has seen over 1 500 activists including MPs and parliamentary candidates either arrested for inciting political violence or in hiding fearing for their lives.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa in a statement this week said that the alleged crackdown aims to “decimate” the party and its structures and that the continued violence against its supporters and members would hinder any meaningful dialogue with Zanu PF.
“The continued onslaught of our structures shows that Zanu PF is not sincere in the so-called dialogue it says it wants with the MDC. The regime cannot talk dialogue when it is acting war across the length and breadth of the country,” Chamisa said, adding that the government could not be allowed to pretend that it wants peace when it is acting violently on the ground.
“Thousands of our supporters are still in the mountains, fearing for their lives while others are still in hospital nursing serious injuries sustained from Zanu PF and state security agents.”
Chamisa said the arrests came at a time when 103 supporters have been allegedly murdered by Zanu PF supporters but without anything said on Zanu PF members being arrested over the murders and violence.
However, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena denied that there was a crackdown on MDC officials. He made it a point that the police would not hesitate to arrest anyone who committed crimes regardless of which political party they are aligned to.
“When a person commits a criminal offence that invites the police, he or she will be arrested,” said Bvudzijena. “The MDC can claim anything or say anything but the police only follow someone or people who would have done something against the law. No matter them being MDC or Zanu PF supporters, if they commit criminal offences the police will arrest them.”
According to MDC records, the MPs who have been arrested since the March 29 elections include Tendai Biti, the partyâ€™s secretary-general and MP-elect for Harare East, Misheck Shoko, MP-elect for Chitungwiza South who was arrested in Mberengwa for campaigning for MDC during the run-off period, Trevor Saruwaka, MP-elect for Mutasa Central who was arrested on political violence charges, MP-elect for Mutare West, and Shuwa Mudiwa who was arrested on charges of kidnapping a 13-year old.
MP-elect for Mkoba Amos Chibaya was arrested on allegations of inciting the police to revolt against the government during a rally, Heya Shoko, MP-elect for Bikita West, Ian Kay MP-elect for Marondera central and senator elect for Kariba John Masaba were all arrested on charges of inciting political violence.
The opposition party said those in hiding included Naison Nemadziwa, MP-elect for Buhera South who was abducted last week and later found at a police station and released on a $100 billion bail after police charged him with inciting violence in his constituency, Pearson Mungofa, MP-elect for Highfield East who is wanted for causing discontent among security officers, Edmore Marima, MP-elect for Bikita East who is wanted for inciting political violence and attempted murder, Shepherd Mushonga, MP elect for Mazowe Central, and Broadwin Nyaude, MP elect for Bindura South who are wanted for inciting political violence.
Eric Matinenga, MP elect for Buhera West who was earlier arrested on charges of political violence, Elton Mangoma, MP-elect for Makoni North, and Pineal Denga, MP-elect for Mbare are wanted for inciting political violence.
Candidate MPs Godfrey Chimombe from Shamva North and Biggie Haurovi from Hurungwe East who lost in the parliamentary elections were arrested on charges of inciting political violence.
The MDC fears that parliament might be sworn in with some of the MPs still in hiding.
The MDC said in Mashonaland Central 145 of their supporters were in prison or police custody while Masvingo has 356, Midlands North has 57, Mashonaland West 114 and 476 in Manicaland.
In Harare MDC said 31 of its supporters were arrested while Matabeleland South had 63, Matabeleland North 59, Mashonaland East 184, Chitungwiza 11, Midlands South 69 and Bulawayo nine.
By Wongai Zhangazha