We find it quite intriguing that while Professor Welshman Ncube and the entire national executive of his MDC-N party complained they were arrested by police in Hwange on Sunday night and detained, for at least four hours, at the police station, the local police commander, Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai, denies it.
The Police Officer Commanding Matabeleland North told NewsDay yesterday that the politicians had not been arrested at all.
He said in fact, Ncube, his secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, her deputy Moses Mzila-Ndlovu and another 18 or so top MDC-N executive members had actually enjoyed themselves during the “30-minute counselling session” they received at Hwange Police Station.
Veterai said the police had found it prudent to take in Ncube and his entourage of three government ministers, legislators and other individuals of high political standing for free lessons on how the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) operated.
Apparently, said Veterai, Ncube and his group were not aware that according to Posa, there was need for police clearance before a public gathering was held.
“They had a meeting of about 30 people or so in Victoria Falls without informing the police. We invited them to the station so that we could revisit the rules of the game in reference to Posa. Normally any gathering of 12 people and above, we want police to be informed,” said the provincial police boss.
It didn’t matter whether or not the time for the free lessons was convenient to the recipients of the lecture – the police would deliver it whatever time they found needful – even at night as was the case with Ncube whose convoy of five vehicles, was ordered into Hwange Police Station after 8 o’clock on Sunday night.
Veterai said: “We work 24 hours a day.
That’s the nature of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Every second, every minute, every hour we are on the ground and when we hear anything, we act regardless of the time.”
Ncube, however, reacted by reminding Veterai that he was a professor of law and therefore knew “more law than all police officers in Matabeleland North put together”.
He also said the police chief was not telling the truth about the time his team was kept at the station, insisting they were “detained” under arrest for no less than four hours and that they were anything but “happy with the meeting” as Veterai claimed.
What immediately comes to mind when all three independent newspapers wake up with screaming headlines of the arrest of top officials of a political party, including three ministers, is the crisis that the troubled Southern African country is trying to shake off its back.
Another Sadc summit is expected in Angola soon and incidents such as happened in Hwange at the weekend are the last thing Zimbabwe wants tabled at the regional meeting.
But it appears each time the parties to the GPA – particularly one of them – wants to shoot themselves in the foot just before such gatherings.
And then we have people complaining about outcomes of the Sadc meetings and even more, whole ministers getting thrown in police cells for allegedly demeaning the Head of State by saying he did not say the whole truth about “noting” resolutions or “endorsing” them.