Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Gives Heroes' Welcome to the 21 Released MDC Members

press release

President Tsvangirai this afternoon gave a heroes' welcome to the 21 MDC members who were released from remand prison today.

They were released after being granted bail at the High Court on Monday. The 21 are among the 31 MDC members who are facing false charges of murdering a police officer in Glen View, Harare last year. They were warmly received by President Tsvangirai at the party's headquarters, Harvest House.

Traffic came to a standstill along Nelson Mandela as hundreds of party supporters, motorists, city workers, shoppers and journalists jostled to greet the released members as they entered Harvest House.

In his address, the President said the party was aware that their incarceration for over 19 months since their arrest last year was not prosecution but persecution. "I know that it has never been a legal case and it has been more of persecution than prosecution," said President Tsvangirai.

"If it had been prosecution, your application for bail would not have gone on for so long. There is a deliberate selective application of the law.

"If you compare with the police officers from Shamva, within two weeks they had been granted bail," he said in reference to police officers from Shamva Police Station who were arrested early this year for fatally assaulting Luxmore Chivambo, a Shamva resident.

President Tsvangirai said it has been a daunting experience for the accused over the last two years that they have been in remand prison. "However, those who are fighting for freedom will prevail over those fighting to oppress the people," he said.

He condemned the state of the prisons in the country, which are overcrowded and have insufficient and substandard food for inmates. "In 2008 I was in prison and I saw people dying because they had no food because of malnutrition. Even a dog will not eat that prison food," said President Tsvangirai.

He thanked the released MDC members for their sacrifice and commitment to the party's struggle for achieving real change and a new Zimbabwe.

"You have come out stronger and more determined as you have realised that there is nothing to fear. I know the experience but without this, there will be no people's struggle. It is one of the benchmarks for real change," he said.

He said the party was working hard to ensure that the remaining five MDC members still in remand prison are released.

The five are; Last Maengahama, a national executive member, Councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Rebecca Mafikeni and Simon Mapanzure. The President was accompanied by senior MDC leadership who included MPs and councillors as well as relatives of those released today.

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