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Zimbabwe Police Arrest Human Rights Lawyers

  • Peta Thornycroft

Zimbabwean lawyers march on the streets of Harare ahead of International Human Rights Day (File Photo)

Zimbabwean lawyers march on the streets of Harare ahead of International Human Rights Day (File Photo)

Zimbabwe police arrested two human rights lawyers Tuesday as they travelled to represent a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) cabinet minister and a Catholic priest who were detained in western Zimbabwe late last week.

The MDC has complained, since the start up of the inclusive government more than two years ago, that the police are not public servants but are loyal to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, co-minister of national healing in the multi party inclusive government and Catholic priest, Father Marko Mkandla appeared in court Tuesday in Hwange, western Zimbabwe and were released on bail.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights say two lawyers were arrested on their way to the court house to represent the two men who had been in police cells since last Friday.

Moses Mzila-Ndlovu was arrested last Friday on his way to attend a memorial service for thousands of Zimbabweans from western Zimbabwe allegedly murdered by Mugabe’s North Korean trained troops 25 years ago. Father Mkandla was conducting the memorial service.

Police say Mzila-Ndlovu and the Catholic priest have broken laws governing public meetings.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the two were finally granted bail at a hearing late Tuesday. Lawyers had complained about police behavior against the two men who were brought into court in leg irons.

Mzila-Ndlovu, a veteran of the 1970’s war against minority white rule is a founding member of the MDC party and was recently appointed minister in charge of promoting healing among those who believe they have suffered persecution because of their political beliefs.

Zimbabwe's Lawyers for Human Rights also announced that an 82-year-old traditional leader, Rwisai Myakaurua, who was arrested in February and suffered injuries during 25 days in detention, died last Saturday. Myakauru was arrested with more than 20 MDC supporters when MDC legislator for the district, Douglas Mwonzora, was holding a rally.

Last month, South African president Jacob Zuma, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), warned that political violence and diminishing freedoms undermined the inclusive government’s ability to prepare for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

Political analysts say Zuma’s criticisms were aimed at Mugabe and his Zanu PF party. SADC guaranteed the political agreement which brought the inclusive government to power and appointed Zuma as mediator.

Several of Mzila-Ndlovu’s colleagues in the inclusive government protested against his arrest by refusing to take part in any independence day celebrations Monday.