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Police raid MDC hotel as harassment and arrests continue

By Lance Guma
26 August 2008

A total of 3 MDC MP’s were arrested Tuesday at parliament bringing to 5 the number arrested over trumped up ‘public violence charges’ since Monday. Broadwin Nyaude (Bindura South), Mathias Mlambo (Chipinge East) and Pearson Mungofa (Highfield East) were all arrested on the day MDC MP’s heckled Robert Mugabe during his speech at the official opening of parliament. Previously on Monday Shuwa Mudiwa the MP for Mutare West and Eliah Jembere from Epworth were arrested before they were sworn into parliament. The MDC accused ZANU PF of trying to reduce their numbers in parliament before a crucial vote to elect the speaker of parliament. Lovemore Moyo from the Tsvangirai MDC still managed to win the election, in spite of the arrests.

Mutare West MP Mudiwa was released the same day on Monday but his colleague Jembere remains in police custody along with those arrested Tuesday. Although it was widely reported elsewhere that MDC deputy secretary general Elton Mangoma, one of the party’s negotiators in South Africa, was arrested as he left parliament on Monday, party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said this was not so. Fellow MP’s physically intervened to prevent the police from taking Mangoma away. “Police have expressed their intention to arrest Mangoma,” Chamisa told Newsreel, “so chances are they will pick him up any time.” Commenting on the arrests and harassment of their MP’s he said Mugabe’s regime was simply engaging in a campaign of retribution after failing to secure the speakership of parliament.

Armed police raided Harare’s Quality International Hotel around 4 am Tuesday claiming they were looking for MDC MP’s on a wanted list for ‘public violence’ charges. The hotel had been booked by several MDC MP’s who had come to be sworn into parliament on Monday. Chipinge East legislator Mathias Mlambo was one of those targeted. He was in the room with his wife when police threatened to break down the door to his hotel room. Mlambo dared police to go ahead and break it down, but the police withdrew. They arrested him later in the day. Police claim Mlambo beat up a war veteran in Chipinge during the March election campaign, a charge highly unlikely given the state sponsored violence that rocked the area.

A report on the Zimbabwe Times website says police demanded the guest register from the hotel at gunpoint. ‘Terrified reception staff handed over the list and the officers frisked the entire hotel staff.’

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