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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • Zimbabwe protester killed, Tsvangirai, Mutambara arrested
    Batsirayi Muranje & Hendricks Chizhanje, ZimOnline
    March 12, 2007

    View Save Zimbabwe Campaign index of images and articles

    HARARE - Zimbabwean police on Sunday shot and killed an opposition supporter and arrested opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara following an aborted rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare.

    The late opposition supporter, identified as Gift Tandare, was shot and killed by the police as Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civic groups defied a ban on rallies and protests imposed by President Robert Mugabe's government last month.

    Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the death of the MDC supporter saying the man was "a ringleader of a group that had been causing havoc at Gazaland" shopping centre in Highfield.

    Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of opposition parties, churches, students and labour that is pushing for political change in Zimbabwe had called Sunday's rally.

    But the rally was violently thwarted in similar scenes witnessed last month when the police in full anti-riot gear sealed off the working class suburb of Highfield and ordered all shops closed before indiscriminately beating up residents and MDC supporters.

    Tsvangirai, who was among those scheduled to address the meeting, was arrested when he went to Machipisa police station to enquire on the charges being preferred against officials of his party who had been arrested earlier in the day.

    Also arrested were National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku, Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the Tsvangirai-led MDC, Grace Kwinje, the party's deputy secretary for international relations and women's assembly chairperson, Lucia Matibenga.

    St Mary's legislator, Job Sikhala, Morgan Changamire, the party's secretary for defence and security and Frank Chamunorwa, all from the Mutambara camp, were also arrested during the crackdown.
    Lawyers representing the opposition leaders were by last night still battling to get access to their clients as the police denied them entry into Harare Central and Machipisa police stations.

    "We cannot find them. For the past five hours, we have failed to get access to them as the police are refusing to co-operate," said Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, adding that at least a hundred activists had been arrested.
    In a statement released night, Elias Mudzuri, the organising secretary in the Tsvangfirai-led MDC, said Tandare was a member of the party's youth wing.

    Mudzuri also demanded the immediate release of Tsvangirai and other opposition and civic leaders. "We demand the immediate release of our leaders. We demand that the regime makes democratic expression possible," said Mudzuri in the statement.

    "The nation is on a knife-edge and the people want bread on their tables and not bullets in their bellies. The regime has unnecessarily heightened political tensions by arbitrarily arresting and assaulting innocent citizens demanding change," added Mudzuri.

    In a separate statement, also released last night, Welshman Ncube, the secretary general of the Mutambara-led MDC, condemned Sunday's brutal crackdown.

    "This action by the police typifies the rogue nature of the regime and the complete disregard for the rule of law and respect for civil liberties.

    "The denial of legal assistance in such a barbaric manner is consistent with the brutal nature of the Mugabe regime and should be condemned in the strongest terms," said Ncube.

    Political tensions are running high in Zimbabwe as an eight-year economic crisis takes its toll on a population grappling with record inflation of 1 700 percent, surging unemployment and poverty.

    The tensions worsened following proposals by the ruling ZANU PF party to extend Mugabe's term by two years under an election "harmonization" plan that will see presidential and parliamentary elections being held at the same time in 2010.

    The MDC and civic groups have vowed to resist the move saying the country could not afford to have at the helm for an additional two more years. - ZimOnline

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