HARARE – Anti-riot police Saturday stormed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Costa Machingauta’s Budiriro home and arrested party organising secretary and lawmaker Amos Chibaya together with 24 opposition activists who were holding an internal meeting.
Machingauta, his wife, and the couple’s daughter were all assaulted by police officers who later barricaded the road leading to the politician’s residence.
The raid was condemned by both CCC leader Nelson Chamisa and his party.
Chamisa described the arrest of the Mkoba legislator and party allies as “the last kicks”.
“THE LAST KICKS…” Chamisa said via his Twitter handle Saturday in apparent reference to the Zanu PF led government.
He added, “This abuse of power and violation of the law is unacceptable as riot police arrest our Change Champions, Hon Chibaya MP & 24 others at Budiriro MP’s house. We will defeat all these terror tactics. Oppression is temporary and falling. Zimbabwe shall soon be free!”
Party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere accused Zanu PF of abusing security forces to incite violence against the opposition.
“We condemn the escalating political violence by Zanu PF against our members. The latest incident is what transpired in Budiriro today.
“The political violence is confirmation that their backs are against the wall. We reiterate that we want elections not war. This should be a battle of ideas and not broken bones. To beat innocent citizens and women is an unconstitutional breach of dignity and Ubuntu.
“It’s unacceptable in a democratic society. We have put the region on notice. We have engaged the Chapter 12 Commissions. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book,” said Mahere.
Harare lawyer Kudzai Kadzere, who was sent to represent the opposition activists, was also reportedly beaten by police at Budiriro 2 police station.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of any assault on the opposition activists but said they had been arrested for convening an “unsanctioned” meeting in violation of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA).
“We are not aware of any reports that CCC supporters and the lawyer representing them were assaulted by the police; the report we received is that they were convening an unsanctioned meeting.
“I am yet to get a full report from those on the ground to establish if CCC supporters and their lawyers were assaulted,” Nyathi said.
Mahere dismissed Nyathi’s claims of an unsanctioned meeting by opposition members, insisting the gathering was a private internal meeting.
“This was a private, internal meeting at the private residence of one of our members. It wasn’t open to the public at all.
“MOPA only applies to public meetings in a public place. Zanu PF must stop abusing the police to stifle competition.
“The illegality of the police’s conduct is compounded by the fact that they didn’t have any search or arrest warrants,” she said.
Mahere added, “What justification is there for tear-gassing a citizen’s home? Why are there lorries or armed police camped there. It’s unlawful.
“We indeed received reports that the wife and daughter of honourable Machingauta were badly beaten. This must be roundly condemned.”