MDC-T’s Midlands South province condemn arrest of party youths

The MDC-T's Midlands South province has condemned the arrest of its party youths in Gweru in the last three days following a successful demonstration by young people who demanded reforms at Zec and a level playing field ahead of the crunch 2018 polls.

The six- Wonderful Marange, Taurai Mugaga, Clifford Mulingwa, Mthulisi Noko, Dhava Mangena and Faith Chuma were released on $100 bail on Monday while a Form 3 student minor was released into the custody of her mother, Eunice Mahlebo.
On Tuesday, police from the Law and Order section then rounded up party youths leader in the province, Levy Chiminya on the same charges.
When the first group of seven appeared before Gweru provincial magistrate Phathekile Msipa on Monday, the state represented by prosecutor Aleck Marimo, said they gathered at Midlands Hotel on 22 July 2017 at around 11am and started a march along Robert Mugabe way. On the way, the state alleges the seven started singing songs that denounce President Mugabe, ZEC and its chairperson Rita Makarau and Zanu (PF). The state further say that the accused persons raised placards that read “Mugabe is too old and useless;” “Makarau must go” and “We demand free and fair elections”.
They were formally charged for contravening section 37 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, that is participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace and bigotry but they did not plead. Claudious Makwarimba, the lawyer representing the MDC-T youths say they have no case to answer because the state’s case is too weak.
Chiminya who has just been pounced upon by the police, is facing the same charges.
In an interview, MDC-T’s Midlands South spokesperson Munyaradzi Mutandavari condemned the arrests.
“This was just a peaceful demonstration coming days if not hours after the Norton one where Zec was heavily criticised for its reluctance to scrap mediocre requirements for voter registration such as proof of residence. The purpose of the demonstrations is what makes Zanu PF unsettled so we are not surprised by these arrests,” he said.
The veteran educationist who controversial lost the  Shurugwi South parliamentary seat in the discredited 2013 elections added that Zanu PF has been cornered no wonder why it is using dirty tactics to frustrate MDC-T.
“The regime is running out of clean ideas and resorting to instilling fear, however, Zimbabweans have suffered for too long to an extent that they can not take it anymore. Our MDC-T president will be occupying state house this time next year and so we call upon the state security agents to exercise restraint and take note of where the wind is going. 2018 we say Save Chete Chete,” he said.
Claudius Makwarimba, the lawyer represented the MDC-T youths said his clients will be set free because they have no case to answer.
“Firstly, two of my clients were arrested before the 11am period that the state say is the time they gathered at Midlands Hotel. The others were also picked up way after the demonstration had ended when they were just walking in town. The worst case is of a Form 3 minor who was picked up near Kudzanayi bus terminus while just walking to the market,” he said.
The lawyer added that the youths were arrested on the mere fact that they are known MDC-T members while the minor was caught up in the melee.
Makwarimba also expressed shock as to why the accused persons were arrested elsewhere and not in places where they are said to have committed the crime.
15 opposition parties under the Zimbabwe National Electoral Reform Agenda (Zinera) platform last Friday resolved to take to the streets to force Zec to give in to their demands for electoral reforms.
Part of the demands included the scrapping of the proof of residence requirement and the need for full disclosure of details surrounding the server that would be used for storage of election data.The parties also demanded transparency in the biometric voter registration (BVR) system, as well as an increase of polling stations in major cities.

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