NINE MDC MPs have reportedly gone into hiding claiming that their lives were in danger from state security agents, Zanu PF militia and war veterans.
According to the party, the lawmakers sought sanctuary before the June 27 one-man presidential election run-off.
Tapiwa Mashakada, the MDC deputy secretary-general, told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the party was not aware of the whereabouts of the legislators and was worried that parliament may be inaugurated in their absence.
The MPs are Shepherd Mushonga (Mazowe Central), Elijah Jembere (Epworth), Pearson Mungofa (Highfield East), Naison Nemadziwa (Buhera South), Broadwin Nyaude (Bindura South), Costin Muguti (Gokwe Kabuyuni), Pineal Denga (Mbare), Edmore Marima (Bikita East) and Tabitha Khumalo (Bulawayo East).
“These MPs have been on the run since the period before the June 27 run-off election after they were threatened by Zanu PF youth militia, war veterans and even state security,” Mashakada, who is the MDC acting spokesperson, said. “I am sure they are still afraid of being harassed, which can either be forceful arrest or physical abuse and psychological harassment. There are others who are wanted by the police, but ran away afraid that if they got arrested they would not get fair justice because of the lawlessness that prevailed.”
Mashakada said the party wanted the MPs-elect to return in time for the swearing in of parliament.
President Robert Mugabe is yet to gazette the date when the sixth parliament will commence business awaiting the outcome of the on-going Sadc-brokered talks between Zanu PF and the MDC meant to culminate in an all-inclusive government.
“If the MPs donâ€™t turn up, the MDC will not have a majority in the House of Assembly to elect a speaker of their choice. This will be to the benefit of Zanu PF. I am sure the security concerns of the legislators must be addressed in the on-going talks between MDC and Zanu PF.”
Zanu-PF for the first time since Independence in 1980 lost its majority in the House of Assembly to the MDC in the March 29 elections.
Asked if the MPsâ€™ disappearance was not a betrayal of those who voted for them, Mashakada said the people in their constituencies were actually sympathetic to their lawmakers.
Earlier, the MDC had complained of a police crackdown on its members. It said over 1 500 of its activists were arrested on allegations of perpetrating political violence, while Zanu PF members accused of the same offences were not being nabbed.
However, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena denied the crackdown saying the police would not hesitate to arrest anyone who committed crimes regardless of which political party they were aligned to.
By Wongai Zhangazha