By Leopold Munhende
HARARE police late Thursday arrested MDC national organising secretary Amos Chibaya over the recently banned demonstrations that had been planned by the party in five cities across Zimbabwe.
Chibaya was convener of the protests that the opposition says were aimed at forcing the government to address the country’s socio-economic challenges as well as force President Emmerson Mnangagwa to agree to dialogue with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
In a statement, MDC deputy information secretary Luke Tamborinyoka said by 6pm Thursday, Chibaya who had handed himself over in the company of human rights lawyer Obey Shava was still being interrogated by detectives at the CID Law and Order division in Harare.
“The MDC national organiser Hon. Amos Chibaya has been arrested and has been charged for failing to take steps to stop demonstrations.
“Upon hearing that the police were looking for him, the Mkoba MP handed himself over to Harare Central Police Station at around 4pm today in the company of his lawyer, Obey Shava,” said Tamborinyoka.
The MDC deputy spokesperson said Chibaya’s arrests signalled the beginning of an effective State of emergency in Zimbabwe.
“His arrest is testimony of the closure of democratic space in Zimbabwe. In fact, the country is under a de facto State of emergency, judging by the abductions, torture and arrests of innocent Zimbabweans in the past few days,” the statement said.
Chibaya is currently out on bail on a subversion case connected to the violent and deadly January protests that left 17 people dead and dozens injured following a 150% fuel price hike.
State security agents have been on a blitz to arrest opposition party officials thought to be behind plans to continuously demonstrate “until there is a legitimate government in Zimbabwe.”
Tamborinyoka, in an update after his statement, said Chibaya was to be detained overnight and will appear in court Friday.
The MDC had planned five demonstrations in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare but police issued prohibition orders in all cities.
However, in Harare, suspected MDC supporters poured out onto the streets of the capital last Friday triggering running battles with police.
A number of people were injured in the ensuing melee while over 120 activists were arrested.