Tsvangirai charged over price freeze shop tour
By Lance Guma
06 September 2007
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai has been charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ over a tour he undertook assessing shops affected by government’s controversial price freeze. Although the tour took place over a month ago the charge is only being raised now. Observers have noted that this is just two days after the deportation of police commissioner Augustine Chihuri’s son Sylvester from Australia. Eight students with Zanu PF parents were kicked out of the country on Monday, much to the fury of the police chief.
Tsvangirai’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama told us they suspect the Manager of an OK supermarket in Mufakose was arm twisted into filing a complaint. The manager claims Tsvangirai disrupted business at the shop by moving around with over 30 bodyguards, journalists and photographers. Pictures of empty shelves were taken without the manager’s consent it is further claimed. The entourage toured Gutsai supermarket in central Harare, OK Mufakose, OK Glen View 3 and Makro wholesalers in Braeside, to assess the impact of the price blitz. Tsvangirai described the blitz as unsustainable and politically motivated.
On Thursday the MDC leader was quizzed for more than an hour before being released. Police say an investigation is now underway. Tsvangirai meanwhile denies the charges. His lawyer said; ‘Mr Tsvangirai does not own any journalists or photographers and cannot not be blamed for people who were simply doing their job.’ Muchadehama mused at how business in a shop with empty shelves could ever be disrupted.
Highlighting the selective application of the law in the country, Jocelyn Chiwenga, wife to army commander General Chiwenga, assaulted journalist Tsvangirai Mukwazhi who was part of the tour at Makro wholesalers in Harare. She was never charged and in fact the state media hailed her as a hero for attempting to embarrass the opposition leader. Already political commentators are questioning how the MDC still retains confidence in mediation talks being brokered by South Africa when the harassment of party officials and leaders continues.