Confusion Surrounds The Arrest of MDC Councillors

The councilors were supposed to appear before a Harare magistrate in the morning but were still at Harare Central police station by end of day Friday the police still to decide how to proceed.

In the morning they had been told that their court appearance would be delayed because the mayor Muchadeyi Masunda who is likely to face the same charges had not been questioned.

But Masunda was eventually quizzed in the afternoon. “The just recorded a statement and have not charged me. It’s in connection with Chiyangwa who is alleging that there is a case of criminal defamation,” Masunda said on Friday evening soon after returning from the Law and Order section.

Sources however said he will face the same charges with the councilors and they are now expected to appear in court either Saturday morning or on Monday depending on whether the Attorney General’s office decides that there was a case to answer.

The charges emanate from a report made by Chiyangwa to police in which he claims that the contents of the explosive report produced by the special council committee are defamatory and injure his good name and impeccable reputations in the eyes of the general public.

Chiyangwa, a former Rhodesian police officer during the Ian Smith regime, claims to police that the council report is harmful to his good reputation and standing in the eyes of the community. Chiyangwa is also arguing that the leaking of the report to the media was maliciously done to damage his reputation and this has led to him losing lots of business.

Journalists from South African based Sunday Times and the Standard have already been interrogated by police over the same issue. They wanted to know the origin of the council report at the instigation of Chiyangwa.

A Harare city councilor who was still holed up at Harare Central police station by end of day Friday said they were still in the dark on their fate as police officers ran from one office to another working on the issue.

 “When Phillip Chiyangwa went to the police to make the report, he was supposed to be arrested for stealing council land. Yet the police decide to twist the law and arrest us for investigating a clear case of land theft. We are yet to establish the deal between Chiyangwa and the police.

“It becomes even more ridiculous if you consider that Chiyangwa is dictating pace, forcing police to arrest councilors even if some of the police officers are telling us that there is no case to answer.

“Even the investigating officers are clearly not confident of what they are doing. You can tell from the way they are investigating that they are under severe pressure. Right now we have been loitering around the police station like streets kids.

 “Yesterday, they told us we were supposed to appear in court today but they keep changing goal posts saying they are waiting for further instructions.

“There is a clear attempt to silence everyone including journalists. We are aware that the arrest of councilors is a determined effort to stop us from proceeding case,” said the councilor just before appearing in court.

The lawyer representing the councilors Aleck Muchadehama also said he was in the dark about what exactly was happening saying he was also waiting to hear from the police on the next move.