Zimbabwean police have arrested 10 opposition Parliamentarians from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. The MPs were arrested at the Ministry of Finance offices in Harare while waiting for a meeting with the Ministry’s secretary, Willard Manungo.
Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the reason for the arrest was unclear. “I received a report to the effect that 10 of our MPs have been
detained by the police. We are still unclear as to the circumstances and motive of the arrest,” Chamisa said.
The arrests are likely to raise tension in the unity government Tsvangirai formed with his rival, President Robert Mugabe, to end the political crisis in the southern African country.
The legislators where bungled onto police pick up trucks and according to sources have been detained at Harare central police station for allegedly causing disturbances at finance ministry offices.
The ten are Pishai Muchauraya, Prosper Mutseyami, Cephas Makuyana, Margret Matienga, Felix Mafa, Simon Hove, Piniel Denga, Amos Chibaya,
Shepherd Madamombe and another one whose identity could not be established.
It is not clear as to who called the police to arrest the MPs who had gone to the offices to make enquiries about their cars, which they are entitled to under a controversial parliamentary vehicle loan scheme.
A number of MDC lawmakers have been arrested over various ridiculous petty crimes in recent months, prompting the party to describe the arrests as an effort by President Robert Mugabe’s party to reduce the MDC’s majority in parliament.
Before Wednesday’s arrests, at least seven MDC MPs faced charges that the party described as trumped up, and five have already been convicted of various crimes.
Four of them were sentenced to more than six months in jail, which automatically disqualifies them from holding their Parliamentary seats, according to Zimbabwean law.
Most recently the Deputy Minister of Indigenisation and Youth
Development, Thamsanga Mahlangu, was arrested on charges of stealing
war veteran Joseph Chinotimba’s phone. He is out on bail and will stand trial later this month. Chinotimba has meanwhile said he will sue Mahlangu for $19 million for business lost while he was denied use of his phone.