Outcry over Harare mayor's $20 bail

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The arrest this week and subsequent placing on remand of Harare Mayor Muchadei Masunda and eight Movement for Democratic Change councillors has drawn sharp criticism from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party.

In an unprecedented move, police, on Tuesday, arrested Mayor Masunda and his colleagues and took them to court . They were all charged with “criminal defamation” before they were allowed to go home.

The mayor and the councillors were accused of leaking a damning council report to the media in which Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and businessman Phillip Chiyangwa were fingered in shady land deals.

On Wednesday Masunda and the councillors appeared in court and were released on $20 bail.
The arrest of Masunda and the councillors has sparked a major outcry from the MDC.

In a statement on Wednesday, the MDC-T said the arrest was a fabricated and calculated political move to counter the probe that exposed corrupt senior Zanu PF and government officials.

The chairman of the team that produced the explosive report, Warship Dumba is being barred from granting interviews to the media.They will again appear in court on May 6.

“It is clear that the fabricated criminal defamation charges were political and were meant to stop the probe against corrupt Zanu PF officials,” said the MDC-T.
“It is clear from the explosive report produced by council last week that the people who are supposed to stand trial are actually (Phillip) Chiyangwa and (Ignatius) Chombo.

“The council report articulates clearly how land was stolen by these Zanu PF fat cats with the connivance of senior council officials”

Masunda, who had just returned from abroad, and his colleagues were arrested last week after local and international newspapers carried contents of the report.

At the same time acting Harare Mayor Charity Bango made her own report to the police alleging there were dodgy land deals involving Chiyangwa and Chombo.

Police are yet to act on the report.