The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC yesterday said it had written to the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to swiftly intervene in the deteriorating security and economic situation claiming that hundreds of its party officials including legislators continue to be arbitrarily arrested.
Although government claims that only three people died during last week’s violent demonstrations where police opened fire on armed civilians while the military conducted night raids amid reports of torture of suspects, civil rights organisations put the number of the dead above a dozen.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the number of MDC legislators who have been arrested is now seven with scores of its parliamentarians now in hiding as they fear the crackdown.
“Our national and provincial members are being detained, and from what is going on during protests it appears the right to bail which is constitutional, is being denied, MPs are being denied bail, this is a first even in worse countries. The magistrates are not even giving people time to defend themselves,” said Mafume.
Yesterday, the MDC in a letter to the speaker of the National House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda claimed that six of its legislators had been arrested — in a process which Mafume claims is designed to reduce the number of the opposition legislators in Parliament.
“Targeting of MPs is meant to cause by-elections. Where in the world is a country managed that way that people are picked up and then beaten and later dumped at a police station?” queried Mafume.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short his trip abroad to come and concentrate on the unfolding crisis at home which he sparked when he announced an increase in the prices of fuel by over 150 percent.
When Zimbabweans protested over the increases in the fuel prices, government deployed security agents who savaged people suspected of having been involved in the protests.
Mafume said the only respite for Zimbabweans could be found in the intervention by regional bodies such as Sadc and AU otherwise the situation can only get worse.
“As the MDC we have engaged Sadc, we have engaged the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, we have written to Sadc to ask them to look at the deteriorating human rights situation and the economic situation in Zimbabwe, Sadc has to act now or they will be a total crackdown,” Mafume.
Mnangagwa, whose government reacted to the national shutdown by switching off the Internet before being ordered by the High Court to switch it on told his followers, ironically on micro-blogging platform Twitter that he is ready now to engage with the opposition.