15 MDC supporters, including pregnant woman, under arrest

mdc_supporters_happy_2David Chimhini, the MDC-T MP for Mutasa North, has said politically motivated violence and partisan policing are getting worse in his constituency. 15 MDC supporters, including a heavily pregnant woman, are in police custody for singing while marching past a ZANU PF gathering.

10 of the people are in their second week in Mutare remand prison. They are expected to be brought to court on March 24th. The MP said the MDC supporters have yet to be charged, despite being held in police custody for two weeks. The other five, including the pregnant woman, were arrested on Monday. Chimhini said they are being held under bad conditions at Ruda police station, which he said was filthy and the inmates are chronically underfed.

I discovered that they were arrested after marching through a place where ZANU PF people were supposed to be having a meeting. But before that the MDC people had been allocated a place to meet by the local headman, and it was following that approval that the ZANU PF people decided to go to the same venue. In actual fact it was just a provocation, said the Mutasa North legislator.

When the MDC supporters were passing through, going to a new place, thats when they were attacked by ZANU PF thugs who immediately ran to the police, and the police were very quick to pick up the MDC people. Chimhini added: Yesterday they picked up five more people and among these people there is a pregnant woman who is well advanced and we are very worried about that development.

The MP said the disturbances in his constituency in Manicaland Province are getting worse. He said this should not be happening when there is now a power sharing government in place. Known soldiers are reportedly also brutalising locals in the area. Chimhini said he recently had to appeal for intervention from the co-Home Affairs MDC-T Minister Giles Mutsekwa, after Ruda police, with the help of army personnel, confiscated the MDC flag which was flying at the district offices in the area.

He also said: There is a selective application of the law because serious and worse things have happened and we have evidence of real political violence in Ward 4 in Mandeya, where people were brutalised and beaten up by known soldiers. But the people have not been arrested. But in this case people are arrested for having passed through a place singing.

There are similar reports of an upsurge of violence in other rural areas, such as in Mudzi in Mashonaland East and in Masvingo. The violence appears to have been initiated by ZANU PF ahead of the forthcoming constitutional outreach programmes.

Of Mutasa North, Chimhini said: The MDC people were actually just going to discuss how they are going to react to the questions that are coming to do with the constitutional making process. So I think its a matter of disturbing, threatening and intimidating people so that when the process begins the MDC people will be intimidated and this is very unfortunate.

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