BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/BLESSED MHLANGA
TWO Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s top officials were yesterday arrested in what the opposition party described as a clampdown on its electoral campaigns through use of State security.
CCC vice-president Tendai Biti, who is a candidate for the Harare East constituency and national organiser Amos Chibaya were arrested for allegedly organising unsanctioned political processions.
They were later released without charge.
Political parties are holding campaign meetings throughout the country with President Emmerson Mnangagwa officiating at the Zanu PF rally in Epworth at the weekend.
MDC Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora also held a rally in Highfield, Harare.
CCC members, however, claim that on several occasions their campaign meetings have been disrupted.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of the arrests.
“I am out of Harare and I am yet to get a briefing on the matter,” Nyathi said.
However, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights yesterday said Biti was arrested and taken to two police stations before he was released without charge.
Last week, armed police reportedly disrupted a CCC gathering organised by Chibaya in Mkoba, Gweru, and arrested 10 party supporters, who were later released without charge.
Yesterday, Chibaya was arrested by the Gweru police officers for failing to give notice of a procession and gathering.
Police alleged that on February 6, 2021, Chibaya led an illegal procession along Bristol Road in Mkoba 10 and 11 high-density suburbs in Gweru in contravention of section 7(5) of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act.
“You convened a procession without notifying the regulatory authority who is officer commanding police Gweru district, as required by the Act, in which you caused people to gather, hired vehicles and ferried people who move around hooting their vehicles, chanting slogans, demonstrating in favour of your political party Citizens Coalition for Change,” the police wrote in the warned and cautioned statement.
Chibaya denied the allegations, arguing that on the alleged date he was on his way to Pfende to attend a meeting which had been authorised by the police.
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere told NewsDay that the government was weaponising the judicial system to frustrate opposition party members.
“We condemn the unfounded persecution of our members. The charges against Chibaya are meritless and clearly calculated to punish him for being a member of the CCC. We condemn the weaponisation and abuse of the court system to frustrate our members.
“We have seen Zanu PF carry out rallies without hindrance, yet the playing field is toppled over when it comes to CCC. We condemn this selective application of the law. Just a week earlier, at least three of our members were arrested in Mkoba over similarly spurious allegations,” Mahere said.
Information deputy minister Kindness Paradza referred questions on the arrests to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe who, however, was not picking calls yesterday.
As the clampdown on the CCC party continues, MDC Alliance treasurer-general Tapiwa Mashakada has hinted that his party would recall all MPs aligned to Chamisa as Parliament resumes sitting today.
Meanwhile, Chamisa has dismissed claims that he would dissolve his party structures.
Chamisa said the CCC party never had no structures and, therefore, nothing needed to be dissolved.
“We have an action working group and not structures at the moment. Zanu PF is panicking because it was investing in destabilising CCC, but it can’t go to town and say we have dissolved structures. Which structures when we launched a new party? We were pushed out of the MDC Alliance and formed a party,” Chamisa said.
The CCC leader was responding to allegations made on social media by Zanu PF information director Tafadzwa Mugwadi who tweeted that Chamisa will dissolve his party leadership due to factional fights between him and Biti.
“The MDC breakaway yellow faction named CCC is now at sixes and sevens as Chamisa moves in to dissolve the entire executive except him, (Lynette) Karenyi Kore and Mahere in an attempt to contain factional threats from Biti, Welshman Ncube and Job Sikhala,” tweeted Mugwadi.
Chamisa said Mugwadi’s statement revealed that Zanu PF was losing sleep over the traction gained by CCC.
“Everyone is a change champion, the citizens are the leaders and they have leaders, this is radical and disruptive change which is difficult but necessary,” Chamisa said.
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