Seventeen MDC-M councillors from Nkayi who were arrested two weeks ago at a gathering where they were planning to defect to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party were last Friday granted $30 bail each.
Police alleged the 17 councillors were attending an unsanctioned meeting. They spent a week in custody.
The councillors: Agrippa Sithole (60), Cornelius Mubaiwa (60), Sengezo Tshabangu (35), Brenda Mpofu (30), Mbonisi Khumalo (41) , Thabani Moyo (46), Sanelai Albert Gumpo (62), Sicelo Mpofu (38), Mateu Ncube (63), Mgijima Dube (61), Mpokiseng Sibanda (44), Nhlanhla Dube (37), Reuben Moyo (73), Lucky Sibanda (40), Maria Ndlovu (48) Sambulo Maphosa (42) and Newman Magutshwa (48) appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Charity Maphosa.
They pleaded not guilty when they were charged for contravening Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry). They were represented by Jonathan Tsvangirai of Danziger and Partners Legal Practitioners who successfully applied for bail on their behalf.
The 17 are expected back in court on January 26 next year.
Charges against them were that on November 25 at around 3pm, they gathered at a stand in Belmont area in Nkayi for a meeting.
The meeting was allegedly called to discuss council issues and to pass a vote of no confidence on council chairman Kufakwezwe Ncube from the MDC- M.
The court heard they also intended to discuss their defection from MDC-M to the MDC-T led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai. However, the state alleges the meeting was not sanctioned by the police.