Dozens arrested in Zim’s fresh assault on citizens over electoral reform protests

As High Court ends Mliswa’s dilemma over campaign rallies

Temba Mliswa

Temba Mliswa

ZIMBABWEAN authorities on Saturday 17 September 2016 arrested dozens of citizens including opposition political party legislators for allegedly staging anti-government protests across the troubled southern African country demanding implementation of significant electoral reforms.

In Gwanda in Matabeleland South province, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) members Lison Ncube, Jabulani Mhlanga and Solomon Mguni on Saturday 17 September 2016 teamed up with MacAllister Ncube of Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers to secure the release of 16 Gwanda residents arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers for allegedly staging protests demanding implementation of electoral reforms in Zimbabwe. The Gwanda residents, who include MDC Gwanda Central constituency legislator Hon. Nomathemba Ndlovu, 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. were all released without charges preferred against them.

In Midlands 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 Hon. 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. Hon. Saruwaka, who is represented by ZLHR lawyer Rangarirai Mubata is detained at Mutare Central Police Station.

In Harare, Hon. Ronia Bunjira, the MDC-T legislator for Harare was arrested for allegedly questioning why ZRP officers assaulted some residents in Waterfalls suburb. A total of 11 residents were 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 political parties.

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.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Justice Owen Tagu on Saturday 17 September 2016 ordered ZRP officers not to interfere with some political campaign rallies organised by aspiring Norton constituency legislator Temba Mliswa. Justice Tagu ordered Mliswa to proceed with holding a campaign rally at Mutipitipi Primary School at Lydiate Farm in Norton’s ward 14 on Saturday 17 September 2016 without any hindrances from ZRP officers. Mliswa, through his lawyer Marufu Mandevere of ZLHR petitioned the High Court after he had failed to hold campaign rallies in Norton on Wednesday14 September 2016 and Friday 16 September 2016 after ZRP officers in Norton refused to accept his notification letters pertaining to holding rallies as provided under the Public Order and Security Act.

Justice Tagu ordered the ZRP to provide a sufficient number of law enforcement agents to keep peace while Mliswa’s rally is taking place.

Mliswa is seeking to contest in a by-election to elect a new legislator for the Norton constituency on 22 October 2016.

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