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Many Zimbabwe Lawmakers of PM Tsvangirai's Party Face Charges; Bias Alleged

Though Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reassured the country on Tuesday that the government was not in danger of falling apart over differences among its partners, Monday's broadside from a top official of his Movement for Democratic Change made clear that prosecutions of MDC officials are deeply troubling the partnership.

The list of members of parliament or other senior officials of Mr. Tsvangirai's formation of the MDC is a long one - and could get longer, political and legal sources say.

  • Member of Parliament Shuah Mudiwa for Mutare West, Manicaland province, was convicted last week on a kidnapping charge and sentenced to seven years in prison;
  • Legislator Lynette Karenyi of Chimanimani West, Manicaland province, has appealed her conviction of electoral fraud;
  • Parliamentarian Blessing Chebundo of Kwekwe, Midlands, and House of Assembly Member Trevor Saruwaka of Mutasa Central, Manicaland, both face rape charges;
  • House Member Meki Makuyana of Chipinge South, Manicaland, faces kidnapping charges;
  • And Tsvangirai MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett, designated deputy agriculture minister but never sworn in, is due back court next month on weapons possession charges.

Reports this week said the Office of the Attorney General is ready to charge MDC Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Tsvangirai formation, with treason.

And Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma is expected to face kidnapping charges.

The MDC says all of these cases are politically motivated with ZANU-PF officials seeking to chip away at the parliamentary majority the MDC claimed in the 2008 general elections.

Human rights lawyer Tinoziva Bere told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that most of the cases target lawmakers in Manicaland, where MDC politicians unseated a number of ZANU-PF incumbents in last year's elections.

Washington-based political analyst Briggs Bomba, acting campaigns manager for Africa Action, said such charges undermine the unity government's capacities as members must expend energy defending themselves - though some need to address the charges.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...