14 January 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC Youths Arrested in Police Crackdown

POLICE yesterday arrested about 30 MDC-T youths in Bulawayo before ransacking the party's office, taking away several campaign materials including fliers, t-shirts and minutes of previous meetings.

MDC-T lawyer Lison Ncube of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the youths, who were arrested along Luveve road, were severely assaulted before they were released without a charge.

"They were beaten thoroughly especially the youth chairman Bekithemba Nyathi," said Ncube. "After that, they raided the party's office where they took fliers and minutes of previous meetings. They later released them without a charge although they recorded all their details on a personal data form."

Ncube said the youth were arrested around 9am and were only released at 3:30pm.

Sources said the MDC-T youths had planned to demonstrate in protest against the continued incarceration of their national youth chairman, Solomon Madzore, accused of murdering a police officer in Glen View last year.

Madzore has been in custody for the past four months.

Yesterday's arrest came at time when the MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti is reportedly preparing a dossier to the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) complaining about the crackdown of his party supporters by state security agents, especially the police.

The MDC-T has accused Zanu PF of waging a war against its members by using the police to randomly arrest them. After the clashes between police and vendors last week, the police raided Harvest House and arrested several MDC-T activists. Two MDC-T youths are currently hospitalised after they were severely beaten upon arrest.

Several other MDC-T activists have also been arrested in the past few weeks across the country on allegations that the party claims are trumped up charges. to enable President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF to decimate Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's support base.

Scores of MDC-T supporters are in jails while others are on bail awaiting trial on charges they party claim are trumped up.

Following the spate of arrests, Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone last week said she will approach Mugabe and the Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri over the partisan conduct of the police.

"Once again, I will be engaging the Commissioner-General and the President about the deplorable behaviour of the police in Nkayi and other areas," said Makone in a statement released soon after police raided Harvest House.

Makone, who admitted that she was powerless to stop the crackdown, said she had previously complained to Chihuri on many occasions but nothing has changed.

"I have alerted the President, to whom all these service chiefs report to on operational issues, and there has not been any shift in the general conduct of some members of the police," she said.

Efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena were fruitless on Saturday.

MDC-T turns to SADC for help

MDC-T deputy spokesperson Thabita Khumalo, who also confirmed the arrest of the youths in Bulawayo, yesterday said Biti was in the process of compiling a "holistic dossier" that will soon be sent to Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma.

Khumalo said his party will also protest about Zanu PF's reluctance to stick to the agreed roadmap to free and fair elections and other outstanding issues.

Asked what hope MDC-T has on Sadc after sending several letters of complaints to Zuma which have yielded no results, Khumalo said: "Now we need a holistic approach, referring to other petitions we have written to Sadc before. We are prisoners of hope."

Khumalo said the MDC-T will continue to appeal to Sadc highlighting all the injustices and oppression that Zanu PF is perpetrating on innocent Zimbabweans until the regional bloc sees sense in assisting the downtrodden.

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