Zimbabwe opposition leader released from police custody

HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition faction leader Arthur Mutambara was on Friday afternoon released from police custody after being charged with contravening the tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
Mutambara was arrested earlier in the day together with about 40 other officials of his Moveme

nt for Democratic Change (MDC) party faction while campaigning for Gabriel Chaibva, his party’s candidate in today’s by-election in Budiriro constituency in Harare.
The by-election is being held to fill a parliamentary seat left vacant following the death of MDC legislator Gabrial Shoko last February.
The two factions of the MDC are both fielding candidates in the election with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC fielding Emmanuel Chisvuure while Jeremiah Bvirindi is representing the ruling ZANU PF party. A senior official of Mutambara’s faction who had also been arrested, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, yesterday told ZimOnline that Mutambara together with the party members had been charged under three separate categories.
“Mutambara and other senior officials like myself and Chaibva were charged under POSA, drivers were charged under the Road Traffic Act, while supporters were charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.
“They (police) wanted us to pay a fine for those charged under the Road Traffic Act but we refused. So they have told us to go come back to the police on Monday with our lawyers to finalise the charges and court processes,” said Misihairabwi.
Under POSA, it is an offence punishable by a two-year jail term for Zimbabweans to gather in groups of more than three to discuss politics. The MDC has often accused President Robert Mugabe of using the tough security law to harass the opposition.
Meanwhile, a lawyer representing about 103 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) activists who were arrested on Thursday for commemorating last year’s controversial clean-up exercise yesterday said he will now approach the High Court seeking the release of the demonstrators.
The NCA activists were arrested last Thursday for marching to the Parliament buildings in Harare in defiance of a police ban against such activities which they feared could spill into anti-Mugabe protests.
“The police have not yet charged my clients. I will file an urgent High Court order tomorrow (Saturday) seeking my clients’ release because people cannot be imprisoned for days and days without a charge as if we are in a military junta,” said Kwaramba. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena refused to comment on the matter last night. – ZimOnline

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