ZIMBABWE – Thirty-five rowdy MDC-T youths were yesterday arrested in central Harare after they held an illegal demonstration causing chaos and damage to vehicles in the process.
The orgy of violence, that coincided with the publication of an opinion piece titled “Zanu-PF rolls back violence” in the pro-MDC-T Daily News by embattled party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, coincided with a European Union summit on migration in Malta and, true to MDC-T tradition, appeared to have been staged for the attention of the party’s indifferent Western handlers.
Police chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the arrest saying the rowdy group threw missiles at police who had intercepted them as they approached Parliament Building.
“Police have arrested 35 MDC-T youths who were participating in an unlawful demonstration along Nelson Mandela Avenue. The group of more than 100 MDC-T youths were intercepted by police close to the Parliament Building and they started throwing missiles and stones towards police officers,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
“Police will not allow hooliganism to continue and will descend heavily on those who are bent on causing chaos and disorder in the city centre. They are being charged for contravening Section 37 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that is participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace and bigotry.”
Police, said Snr Asst Comm Charamba, will not fold its arms while some malcontents violate other people’s right to freedom of movement.
“Police will not tolerate any lawlessness let alone public violence as is the case with the present case,” said Snr Ass Comm Charamba.
When contacted, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu defended the demonstration by party youths.
“In terms of the new Constitution, people have a right to demonstrate. It is a human right that is quite fundamental. Zimbabweans have a right to stage a peaceful demonstration. There is nothing called an illegal demonstration,” said Mr Gutu.
He said MDC-T youths were demonstrating against what he called the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
“Zanu-PF promised two million jobs but we now have more than two million loafers. People are hungry, there are no jobs, food, water and electricity. Everything that is supposed to be there is not there. There is partisan distribution of food so people are saying Zanu-PF has failed. I urge the police to relook at the Constitution and see if there is anything called an unsanctioned demonstration,” said Mr Gutu.
The arrest of the 35 MDC-T comes barely a week after the arrest of another 16 youths from the opposition party for convening an illegal gathering in Hopley, Harare South district.
The 16, including Harare East Member of the National Assembly Eric Murai, were released on $200 bail by a magistrates’ court after they were charged for contravening the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that related to participating in unlawful gatherings.