By Mlondolozi Ndlovu and Professor Matodzi
Harare, March 22, 2016 – POLICE on Monday arrested and later released some 21 MDC-T employees during a dragnet arrest of party activists while trying to investigate the alleged assault of a Zanu PF member by MDC-T on Saturday.
Those arrested comprised mainly the party staff manning the MDC-T national headquarters at Harvest House.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Right’s Gift Mtisi who was hired to secure the release of the employees said all but one employees were released after police had taken the group to Harare Central police for identification.
After the process, only a single party activist Albert Chidhakwa was detained for assault although he was reportedly denying the charges.
Earlier on, MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and party spokesperson Obert Gutu held a press conference where they took turns to blast the “unprovoked” police raid which saw party offices including that of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai ransacked by marauding cops.
Mwonzora said the police raid was part of Zanu PF’s old tactic to unsettle its opponents as the country’s political competition gets more intense.
He also said the raid could also have been an attempt by the country’s partisan police force to intimidate the opposition ahead of a planned demonstration April 7 against the plunder of $15 billion worth of Zimbabwe’s diamonds in a period of six years.
The plunder is blamed on cartels with close links to the country’s ruling class.
“This demonstration is meant to press the government into doing something about the levels of poverty that have afflicted our people.
“It is also to force the government to account for the 15 billion.
“We are not a country that can afford to ignore something as big as $15 billion and the telltale signs are that this $15 billion was consumed by a few people privately and that is not acceptable,” Mwonzora said.
The former Nyanga North legislator said the police raid was “very unlawful and unconstitutional”.
Mwonzora said current fissures within Zanu PF were indirectly fuelling the harassment of opposition parties as the country’s political arena turns more competitive.
“The attempt by the state agents is to weaken the MDC as a way of saving Zanu PF. So we have a state security system that thrives in trying to prop up a political party.
“And they do that by trying to destabilise the MDC, they try to slow down other political parties.”
Gutu also condemned the raid saying police were only using the assault as a smokescreen.
“The level of force that they used…eight truckloads to track down one or two people; that is disproportionate use of state machinery. It shows that there is an ulterior motive, this is just a smokescreen, this is just a political clampdown,” he said.
“We all know that Itai Dzamara (pro-democracy activist) has been missing for more than 12 months now they never deployed that level of state machinery to hunt down his abductors.”