THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC says it will approach multilateral institutions to pressure President Robert Mugabeâ€™s government to release 15 activists the party claims are in police custody after their arrest earlier this month.
The move to engage international bodies by the MDC comes after police have defied a High Court order to release the activists. The party also petitioned in vain the acting Attorney-General Barat Patel on the matter.
The activists, according to the MDC, were still unaccounted for after they were arrested in pre-dawn raids on their homes in Banket, Mashonaland West.
Nelson Chamisa, MDC spokesperson, told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the party had no option but to engage Sadc, the African Union (AU) and other international bodies to intervene.
â€œThe MDC has done all in its power to have the activists released without any success and the only option left will be to knock at the doors of multilateral institutions like Sadc and the AU,â€ Chamisa said. â€œWe have to put pressure on the Sadc and the AU to put pressure on Zimbabwean authorities to release our activists. As a party we are also demanding the respect of the human rights of our activists.â€
The MDC said the continued detention of its activists was a â€œmajor threatâ€ to the partyâ€™s power-sharing negotiations with Zanu PF.
The party activists have been held for almost 30 days without access to their lawyers or families.
A High Court ruling on November 11 ordered the urgent release or the immediate appearance in court of the activists, but the police have defied it.
Chamisa said the continued illegal detention of the activists was a violation of the power-sharing agreement the two MDC formations signed with Zanu PF in Harare on September 15.
The MDC listed the missing members as the partyâ€™s womenâ€™s assembly chairperson Concillia Chinanzvavana, her husband Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, and Zvimba South District chairperson Fidelis Chiramba.
Chiramba stood as an MDC senatorial candidate for Zvimba in the March 29 elections.
The other activists are parliamentary candidate for Zvimba North in the same elections Ernest Mudimu, Zvimba South youth organiser Fanwell Tembo, deputy provincial secretary Terry Musona, and the wife of MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson Collen Mutemagawo, Violet Mupfuranhehwe.
Mutemagawo and Mupfuranhweâ€™s two-year-old child, who was abducted together with his parents, is also missing. So are activists Lloyd Tarumbwa, Pieat Kaseke, Gwenzi Kahiya, Tawanda Bvumo, Agrippa Kakonda and Larry Gaka.
Kakonda and Gaka are from Chitungwiza.
By Loughty Dube