27 MDC supporters in court over violent demo

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By Idah Mhetu

SOME 27 suspected MDC supporters were hauled before a Harare magistrate, Saturday charged with participating in an illegal demonstration on the previous day.

According to the group’s lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, processes to acquire bail will begin on Monday.

“They are being charged with participating in a public gathering with intent to cause breaches of peace. They are 27 in all who appeared in court on about nine charges but in the detail the State argues they participated in an illegal gathering,” Bhamu told late Saturday.

“On Monday we will begin the process of applying for bail.”

Another activist Pride Mkono, arrested a day before the abortive MDC protest, also appeared in court.

Mkono is being charged with subversion after comments he reportedly made on social media.

Hundreds of MDC activists thronged the iconic Africa Unity Square in central Harare on Friday, defying a police ban on a demonstration that had been planned by the main opposition to register discontent over the fast deteriorating economic situation under the Zanu PF led government.

The protest was also aimed at forcing President Emmerson Mnangagwa to agree to dialogue process with MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.

The MDC has lined up similar protests in Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare in the coming week with tensions ever rising.

Human rights groups claim as many as 120 people were arrested.

Reports also linked a lot of protesters to injuries.

The amount of brute force police used to crush the opposition demonstration elicited strong condemnation from the European Union and the US embassies in Harare.

Mnangagwa’s government has been slammed for the heavy-handedness in dealing with dissent despite the Zanu PF leader anchoring his campaign for the 2018 elections on a promise to widen the democratic space.

However, government argues the MDC was planning a violent demonstration aimed at forcibly removing President Mnangagwa from power.