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Were Zimbabwe Opposition officials detained over security laws?

By Andrew Moran     Jul 11, 2011 in World
Harare - Officials from a splinter faction that split from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change were briefly detained and later released without charge by Zimbabwean police. It is still unclear as to why the ministers are arrested.
Local Zimbabwe newspaper, The Zimbabwe Daily, is reporting that three Cabinet ministers, including leader and Trade Minister Welshman Ncube, and 18 other party officials were detained late Sunday.
Following a meeting in the town of Hwange in the western part of Zimbabwe, the faction officials were arrested at a roadblock, detained at the Hwange police station and then released without any charges.
Secretary General Mishirabwi-Mushonga and deputy Secretary General Moses Mzila Ndlovu were also involved in the arrests.
It has not been officially announced as to why they were detained, but one senior police official said political parties, civic groups and labour unions are forbidden from holding meetings with more than four people unless they receive special permission from the local police.
The spokesperson for the group known as MDC-N, Kurauone Chihwayi, told Bloomberg News: “Our understanding is that they were held under the Public Order and Security Act for allegedly holding an illegal meeting and were arrested at a police roadblock.”
Although media outlets and party representatives confirm they were arrested, Zimbabwe state-owned Herald reports that Police Officer Commanding Matabeleland North Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai were not arrested but rather they were invited to the police station.
“They were not arrested. They were only invited to explain to the police what they were doing,” said Veterai. “They are VIPs and as the police their security is our concern. They were at the Criminal Investigation Department for less than 30 minutes and were released.”
Election this year?
This comes as President Robert Mugabe called for elections this year. Since it was announced, there has been an increase in violence and arbitrary arrests. Critics of the longtime president accuse Mugabe of trying to intimidate and “emasculate” opposition leaders with these types of measures.
Some, though, are questioning the possibility of an election. Bulawayo 24 published an in-depth look as to why an election won’t happen citing time constraints. “What Zanu PF seems to be saying is that the year 2011 never ends, which is a myth and a wild fallacy.”
Nevertheless, both MDC factions agree that they are ready to work together in order to make sure that Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) falls in the next election.
More about Zimbabwe, movement for democratic change, Morgan tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, Robert mugabe
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