Police storm Harare council meeting, arrest 21 councillors, 3 journalists

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HARARE – Police on Thursday halted a full council meeting of the City of Harare, arresting 21 councillors and three journalists who were covering the meeting.

The police were acting on the instructions of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) which says it is investigating land corruption in the local authority.

Journalists Takunda Mandura of Open Parly, Munashe Chokodza of 263Chat and Blessings Chidhakwa from the Herald were caught up in the raid at around 5.30PM.

Speaking from Harare Central Police Station at 7PM Wednesday, Mandura said police ignored their pleas that they were journalists covering council proceedings. They were bundled into the back of open trucks together with the councillors and driven away from Town House.

Mandura said police had not told them what charges they were facing.

The Media Institute for Southern Africa’s lawyer Chris Mhike was deployed at the police station to secure the journalists’ freedom.

The City of Harare is run by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, which recently thwarted a Zanu PF-sponsored takeover by a rival faction.

The MDC Alliance says the government appears intent on dissolving the council and installing a commission to run the capital in its place.