By Own Correspondent
CHINHOYI – Twelve MDC Alliance activists who were arrested during a weekend funeral gathering were released on ZW$5,000 bail each by a Chinhoyi magistrate on Monday.
They were charged with holding an illegal meeting in violation of Covid-19 preventive measures.
The opposition supporters, including Mashonaland West provincial chairman Ralph Tawanda Magunje, were seized by patrolling armed soldiers and police officers from their party offices on Saturday.
They were making funeral arrangements for a deceased fellow activist, the party said.
Other defendants are Tawanda Bvumo, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Edward Dzeka, Blessing Mandava, Kuda Mandishona, Kuda Chigumo, Richard Vitirinyu, Wilson Makanyaire, Abigail Usai, Collen Mapfumo, and Pauline Sibanda.
Remanding them to March 12, the magistrate ordered the opposition members “not to interfere with witnesses, reside at their given addresses and report once a fortnight at their nearest police stations,” according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which represents them.
MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti condemned the arrests saying the move indicates a disturbing “new normal under Mnangagwa. Wanton arrests of activists and de facto ban of our movement.”
Biti accused the government of a selective application of Covid-19 regulations saying ruling Zanu PF officials “are holding rallies, politburo meetings, and gala funerals but others can’t.”
Last month Zanu PF politburo member and Bindura North legislator Kenneth Musanhi violated the lockdown measures by holding a rally that was attended by over a hundred party members.
He was never charged or arrested.