By Lance Guma
21 February 2011
Munyaradzi Gwisai, the radical leader of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) Zimbabwe chapter, was on Saturday arrested alongside 53 other activists on charges that they were plotting ‘Egypt style protests’ during a meeting in Harare.
It’s being alleged Gwisai and his group organized a meeting at an undisclosed location in the capital, where they played videos of the footage of the uprising in Egypt. Police claim the idea was to inspire similar protests in Zimbabwe. Invited to the meeting were members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (ZINASU) and other unions.
Harare province police spokesman Inspector James Sabau claimed; “The agenda of the meeting was the revolt in Egypt and Tunisia — what lessons can be learnt for the working class in Zimbabwe and Africa. Videos of the uprising in Egypt and revolts in Tunisia were being shown to the guests who attended as a way to motivate the people to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.”
Lawyers however say the activists were having a normal academic debate and deny plotting anything.
Meanwhile SW Radio Africa understands Gwisai, Tafadzwa Choto, Mike Sambo and the other activists are being held at Harare Central Police Station. An activist who went to the station with food told us the alleged ‘ring leaders,’ Gwisai in particular, have been severely beaten by police. Gwisai is said to be unable to walk on his own. They were only allowed food from outside at around 2 in the afternoon.
The Democratic Left Front (DLF) pressure group, which Gwisai is also a member of, said a total of 54 people had been arrested, including Gwisai. “They are still being held and will have to be charged today if they are to be held in detention any further. It is believed they will be charged for conspiring against the state and a number of them have been beaten physically by their police interrogators.”
“The DLF stands in solidarity with our comrades in Zimbabwe and all those people fighting against the repressive and dictatorial regime headed by Mugabe. It is clear the despots on our own borders fear the prospect of the winds of massive civil disobedience that is rocking the Middle East will travel down South and confine them to the dustbin of history,” the DLF added.
Meanwhile Gwisai’s former party, the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, issued a statement demanding his release.
“It is inconceivable for the police to assume that a mere 46 people can topple a government by simply viewing old video footage from Tunisia and Egypt. The video material is already in the public domain and can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world. The actions by the police are a clear sign that the guilty are always afraid.”