28 MDC supporters held over Mutedza’s death

The police found the battered body of Inspector Petros Mutedza on May 25 outside a pub at a shopping centre in the working class suburb of Glen View 3.

Solomon Madzore
Solomon Madzore

He was a small-time supporter of President Robert Mugabe. But the Zanu (PF) police's response to his killing has touched off an international furore. Over the last four months, the police have arrested 28 members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC and charged them with his murder – including the party’s Youth Assembly chairperson, Solomon Madzore. He was remanded in custody on October 7.

Police officials have branded the MDC accused "terrorists" and have vowed to invoke tough laws to restrict movement and assembly. Those arrested were viciously tortured before being thrown behind bars.

The police allege that MDC members killed Mutedza in cold blood after he and other police details tried to stop an illegal meeting at a bar in Glen View.

Tsvangirai's party is adamant the policeman was killed by members of the public as the law enforcement agents attempted to drive away people from the bar.

MDC organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa, dismissed the charge as "trumped-up".

"We are a peaceful party that has fallen victim to violence; we are against violence whether it's the MDC or Zanu (PF). We also do not support violence against our law enforcement agents." Chamisa said violence was in Zanu (PF)'s DNA.

The MDC’s 2011 records show that that 335 MDC and human rights activists have been arrested by Zanu (PF) supporters or state security agents. This translates to more than one arrest per day. Thousands others have been harassed and intimidated across the country.

"On the ground, we have reports from Mbare in Harare, where MDC activists and members have been arrested making reports to the police after being assaulted by Zanu (PF) thugs. MDC members continue to be remanded in custody on trumped-up charges," he said.

United States State Department officials have expressed concern at "recent cases that suggest excesses and a continued partisan bias on the part of law enforcement officers and prosecutors in the conduct of their duties."

Earlier, a delegation from the European Union raised similar issues in a meeting with Mugabe. But the Western officials all said they left their meetings with little hope that the political climate would improve.

Many believe Mugabe's Zanu (PF) is using Mutedza's death as an excuse to attack his opponents as he braces for the most hotly contested election of his political career.

The MDC has expressed concerns about the threats against its members to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee and to the SADC mediator, President Jacob Zuma.

American officials have urged Zimbabwe's government to pave the way for fair elections by curbing violence and intimidation and by allowing the opposition access to the media and the voters rolls.

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