Matinenga freed – and fighting for removal of troops

MDC lawmaker Eric Matinenga has been set free by a magistrates' court. Matinenga had been facing charges of inciting violence in his Buhera West constituency.

The court told Matinenga – who two weeks ago secured an interim order from the High Court forcing the army to withdraw soldiers from rural areas where they have allegedly committed violence and human rights abuses – that he had no case to answer.

Matinenga was arrested in his constituency last Saturday after he had travelled there to serve soldiers with the High Court order that they should leave the area.

The police had kept Matinenga in jail until his release yesterday.

In his High Court application against the army, Matinenga wants the court to order Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander General Constantine Chiwenga to remove soldiers from Buhera and other rural areas where he says they are harassing and assaulting opposition supporters.

Chiwenga filed opposition papers on Tuesday. The ZDF chief claims in his papers that Matinenga’s application was based on false and incorrect information that soldiers were deployed in rural areas to target opposition supporters for harassment.

I am not aware of any members of the defence forces who are targeting members of any political party whatsoever, Chiwenga wrote in an affidavit to court.

Following the interim order, Matinenga is now seeking a final order prohibiting what he has described as the militarisation of rural areas in the run-up to the June 27 election. – ZimOnline

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