18 March 2011

Zimbabwe: Activists Finally Freed After Delays in Posting Bail

Former MDC MP Munyaradzi Gwisai, plus 5 other activists facing dubious treason charges, walked free from remand prison on Thursday, a day after High Court Judge Samuel Kudya had granted them bail.

The six were granted US$2,000 bail each but lawyers were unable to secure the funds before the Clerk of Court closed his office Wednesday. A total of US$12 000 had to be raised, even though the judge said he saw "no iota of evidence that any Zimbabwean ever contemplated any Tunisian or Egyptian revolution."

The group was arrested for watching video footage of protests in Egypt and Tunisia and later having an academic debate. Police raided the venue of the meeting and arrested over 54 people. Treason charges were later filed, with prosecutors claiming the activists were plotting to overthrow Mugabe's regime.

Meanwhile on Thursday the same judge who freed Gwisai and the 5 activists also freed on bail MDC-T Zhombe MP Rodger Tazviona, and the six other men charged with threatening to harm Chief Samambwa. They were each granted US$100 bail.

Tazviona was arrested on the 14th February along with Lazarus Kaswera, Crispen Tazvivinga, Idea Makota, Simbarashe Mtengo, Taurai Chinembiri and Albert Mudzingwa, for allegedly making violent threats to Chief Samambwa. Justice Kudya ruled that the Kwekwe magistrate who denied the six bail had erred.

With elections for a new Speaker of Parliament pending it's speculated that ZANU PF is trying to use the arrest of the MP's to trim the MDC-T voting numbers. A total of seven MP's have been arrested so far and of that number, 6 have been released, but not before long spells in police custody.

The seven MDC-T MPs who now have pending court cases include Costin Muguti (Gokwe-Kabuyuni), Roger Tazviona (Zhombe), Jani Varandeni (Bikita South), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Shepherd Mushonga (Mazowe Central), and Energy Minister Elton Mangoma who is the MP for Makoni North.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said all of them are "innocent victims of a barbaric and senseless dictatorship." Several other MP's are receiving summons to either appear in court or police stations and more arrests are predicted.

On Thursday the MDC-T reported how Sanyati District Women's Assembly vice Chairperson Blessing Rukovo, and vice Organising Secretary Tendai Gambe, are being treated for injuries sustained after being assaulted by the local ZANU PF MP Fungai Chaderopa, her son Kennedy and over 10 ZANU PF thugs who were trying to evict them from their shops. Some money and goods were looted.

Rukovo and Gambe are said to be receiving treatment for head injuries at Sanyati Baptist Hospital, before being transferred for further treatment in Kadoma.

Meanwhile we understand war vets in Sakubva, Mutare visited Sakubva High 1 and Sakubva High 2 and forced all students in Form 4 to 6 and the teachers to attend a lecture on ZANU PF policies.

"They ordered them not to support the MDC. After waiting for more than four hours in the heat, singing ZANU PF songs, they were later forced to sign the ZANU PF anti-sanctions petition and to give their names, addresses and ID numbers," an MDC statement said.

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