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MDC chairperson Thabitha Khumalo, Senator Helen Zivira and six other party activists are set to appear in court today facing charges of accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa of stealing the July 30, 2018 elections.
On Saturday, Bulawayo police arrested Khumalo, Zivira, Luba Masotsha, Elliot Mujeri, Tinashe Matimbura, Meliqiniso Sithole and Shelton Tembo while conducting a door-to-door awareness campaigns in Tshabalala for today’s planned protests in the city.
The protests that began in the capital, Harare on Friday are aimed at piling up pressure on Mnangagwa to concede failure in addressing the country’s economic crisis and force him to address legitimacy issues plaguing his rule.
Police violently stopped the Harare protests after High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa dismissed, on a technicality, the MDC’s urgent chamber application to overturn the police prohibition order.
Justice Musakwa ruled that the MDC approached the wrong court, as prohibition orders were supposed to be handled by a magistrates’ court.
The MDC Bulawayo province has, however, vowed to forge ahead with the protests and on Saturday its women’s assembly members held door-to-door campaigns in the city urging residents to participate, resulting in the eight’s arrest.
Khumalo and her co-accused were charged with communicating falsehoods by distributing fliers alleging that the 2018 July elections were rigged.
The flier reads in part: “…the ordinary citizens will be peacefully demonstrating for a people’s government that will begin to address the grievances facing the nation. Following the stolen election of July 2018, the people are facing serious challenges…”
Police charged them with contravening section 31(b)(ii) (A) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that speaks to “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State that (ii) he or she does not have reasonable grounds for believing to be true”.
MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza condemned their arrest as barbaric.
“This is a pointer that the regime has taken a turn towards a wanton disregard for the Constitution and disdain for the freedoms that it bestows,” Chirowodza said, adding human rights lawyers Nosimilo Chanaiwa and Godfrey Nyoni were representing the arrested party members.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment as he was not answering his mobile phone.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has called for a cessation of hostilities between the MDC and Zanu-PF after the latter threatened to foil the opposition party’s protests it claims are aimed at toppling Mnangagwa.
“… For the cessation of hostilities between the ruling party Zanu-PF and the MDC, which can be achieved through a deliberate process to commit to a formal process towards national convergence. The church remains open to facilitating such a process,” said ZCC general-secretary Kenneth Mtata in a statement on Saturday.
“The nature and complexity of Zimbabwe’s historic, present and future challenges can only be resolved through co-operation among all Zimbabweans, which can be achieved through an inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue process. The church commits to continue to pray and invite all Zimbabweans to such a process.” Source – newsday
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