HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe police on Wednesday arrested former finance minister and opposition politician Tendai Biti as he tried to cross the border and seek asylum in neighbouring Zambia, his lawyer said.
Biti, whose party formed an election alliance with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s main rival Nelson Chamisa, is the first senior opposition politician to be arrested in the aftermath of last week’s disputed presidential election won by Mnangagwa.
Lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo said Biti was arrested after presenting himself to Zambian immigration officials at Chirundu border post, north of the capital Harare and police had not yet informed him of the charges.
Police are appealing for information that may lead to the arrest of nine suspects including MDC Alliance leaders Mr Tendai Biti and Morgen Komichi who allegedly incited violence that rocked Harare last Wednesday following the party’s loss to Zanu-PF.
The MDC Alliance has rejected the election results in which President Mnangagwa beat Mr Nelson Chamisa after garnering 50,8 percent against the coalition leader’s 44,3 percent.
The ruling Zanu-PF won 145 National Assembly seats against the MDC Alliance’s 63 seats.
NPF got one and the other was grabbed by Mr Temba Mliswa, who ran as an independent candidate for Norton.
In a statement yesterday, a spokesperson for the CID, Detective Assistant Inspector Portia Chinho said the nine suspects, who also include the party’s youth leader Happymore Chidziva, Jim Kunaka, Paddington Japajapa, Mafaiti Mubaiwa, Jeff Tafadzwa Chaitezvi, Lovejoy Chitengu and Chamunorwa Madya, would face charges under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence.
“They are wanted by the Criminal Investigations Department for Contravening Section 37 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, Chapter 9:23,” said Det Asst Insp Chinho. “That is
“Participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry.
“We are appealing to members of the public who may have information that may lead to the arrest of the following to contact Criminal Investigations Department Law and Order Harare on 0242- 779214 or their nearest police station”.
The 27 supporters who were arrested last week appeared in court yesterday. According to the State, on August 1 at about 1200hrs, the accused persons were part of a group that held an illegal demonstration mobilised by the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance against the alleged delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce the July 30 presidential election results.
The suspects, who were acting together with about 4 000 others still at large, marched along Rezende Street and Bank Street in Harare Central Business District.
On arrival at the Market Square Police Base, the accused threatened to assault police officers.
They went to corner Rezende Street and Bank Street in Harare where they pulled down a portrait of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, before burning it.
They then allegedly proceeded to KFC food outlet where they stoned the shop, before proceeding to Pizza Inn where they did the same.
The accused also allegedly stoned the Bakers Inn outlet along First street.
A team of police reaction unit intercepted the accused, who ran away along Nelson Mandela.
MDC Alliance supporters ran amok in Harare’s city centre destroying property, torching vehicles, looting and robbing vendors and pedestrians culminating in the death of six people.