By Sij Ncube
Harare, September 18, 2016 – FIVE opposition legislators are among the estimated 100 protestors arrested Saturday after riot police crushed nationwide demonstrations over electoral reforms, MDC-T vice president Nelson Chamisa has said.
Chamisa said Sunday morning three legislators from Harare, one each from Manicaland, Midlands and Matabeleland South were missing after being assaulted by riot police on Saturday as President Robert Mugabe’s beleaguered regime continues to heavily deal with peaceful protests in the wake of renewed socio, political and economic crisis.
“We have members of parliament missing… one Harare (Munengami) was deadly assaulted. He could hardly see as he was thoroughly beaten,” said Chamisa.
“As Zanu PF‘s popularity plunges every day, we have seen an upsurge of brutality. In fact, we are seeing corresponding use of force against citizens. Some of our people cannot be accounted for as they were picked by people who we believe are not police because we do not think our own Zimbabwe police are this brutal.”
An independent Sunday paper claimed Zanu PF militia, dressed in riot police gear, have been roped in by the Mugabe regime to crush increasing dissent. It is claimed Zanu PF has established a terror base at its Zanu PF headquarters where protesters are taken and then assaulted before being surrendered to police at Harare Central.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) confirmed the arrests of citizens including opposition legislators for allegedly staging anti-government protests across the troubled southern African country demanding implementation of significant electoral reforms.
In Harare, Ronia Bunjira, the MDC-T proportional representation legislator for Harare was arrested for allegedly questioning why ZRP officers assaulted some
residents in Waterfalls suburb.
A total of 11 residents were reportedly arrested in Waterfalls after they allegedly staged protests at Parktown shopping centre over the government’s refusal to adopt and implement electoral reforms demanded by a coalition of opposition political parties. There were other separate arrests in other Harare townships.
In Bulawayo, police barricaded possible meeting places and the routes by demonstrators but citizens nonetheless proceeded with the picketing. There was no major incidence reported in the country’s second biggest city apart from the now common heavy police presence.
In Gwanda, in Matabeleland South province, police arrested MDC Gwanda Central constituency legislator Nomathemba Ndlovu. Other Gwanda residents included prominent pro-democracy campaigner Kukhanyakwenkosi Mkandla, Solani Moyo, Hlangano Zwambila, Jonathan Mapingire, Velisiwe Nkomo, Gabriel Moyo, Cathrine Ncube, Edgar Ncube, Mandla Twala, Zimiso Sibanda, Alex Masendeke, Mthabisi Mpofu, Mqabuko Ndlovu and Redion Zhou.
They were, however, later all released without charges preferred against them.
In Midlands’s province, ZLHR lawyers were deployed to offer emergency legal services to some Zvishavane residents, who were arrested for participating in the electoral reform demonstration.
ZLHR lawyers encountered challenges in representing their clients as ZRP officers denied them access to their clients.
In Mutare, in Manicaland province, ZRP officers arrested and charged Mutasa Central legislator Trevor Saruwaka with contravening Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a public gathering with intention to cause public violence.
Saruwaka, who is represented by ZLHR lawyer Rangarirai Mubata, was detained at Mutare Central Police Station.
In Mashonaland West province, seven people were arrested in Kadoma’s Rimuka high-density suburb while two people were arrested in Chinhoyi, the provincial capital.