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Zimbabwe Opposition Says Lawmaker Among Supporters Arrested


Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change says 50 supporters have been arrested since Tuesday. The police say the number is fewer than 40. VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.

The MDC says a newly elected lawmaker is among the dozens of opposition supporters arrested by police since the party called a national strike. The MDC named the lawmaker as Marvelous Khumalo, elected in Chitungwiza in North East Zimbabwe.

Police say those arrested are suspected of barricading roads, stoning vehicles and preventing people from going to work. The MDC said its call was for people to say home and indoors. But there were independent reports of at least one burnt-out vehicle Wednesday along with remnants of makeshift barricades set up at the start of the strike.

The MDC asked Zimbabweans to strike in protest at the failure of the country's Electoral Commission to release the result of the presidential election, held more than two weeks ago. But most people ignored the call to stay at home. By Wednesday, riot police were no longer on the streets of the capital, Harare.

Members of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights say that since the elections, held at the end of March, members of the group have treated about 160 people for injuries caused in organized violence and torture.

Independent lawmaker Jonathan Moyo says what he calls Zimbabwe's democratic forces should use whatever means they have to confront the government and the ruling ZANU-PF party over the current political crisis.

"In these circumstances, the progressive democratic forces must throw everything at their disposal against the government and ZANU-PF," Moyo said.

Many Zimbabweans are looking to regional leaders, particularly South African President Thabo Mbeki, to help find a way out of their worsening political and economic woes. Mr. Mbeki's comments last week - that there is no political crisis in Zimbabwe - caused outrage among some Zimbabweans.

This person wished to remain anonymous.

"President Mbeki is lying. It's crazy in Zimbabwe because rural areas (inaudible) beating people, some of them being admitted to hospitals," the person said.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans demonstrated in Pretoria at the Zimbabwe embassy demanding the release of the tally in the president poll. One protester told South African radio Zimbabweans want what they voted for.

"We are here, we want them to open the gate for us, so that we go inside and claim what belongs to us and declare our own ambassador so that the world can see that the people of Zimbabwe are not just talking, but we mean what we talking, but we mean what we [are] voting for," the protester said.

Meanwhile South Africa's ruling African National Congress issued its strongest statement yet on the situation in Zimbabwe. In an address to the South African Chambers of Commerce, ANC President Jacob Zuma said his party is increasingly anxious about the delay in the verification process and the release of the tally in Zimbabwe's presidential poll.

Zuma added that reports of violence have made the situation ever more worrying.

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