Accessibility links

Breaking News

Zimbabwe Arrests Officers of Law Society

The president and secretary of Zimbabwe's Law Society have been charged with subversion, and lawyers are seeking their release. The police say they have evidence the two lawyers wrote subversive letters to the British High Commission (embassy) in Harare and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) about the need to make Zimbabwe ungovernable.

In the last two years the Zimbabwean government has arrested thousands of members of the opposition, civil rights leaders and journalists. However, lawyers have until now been left alone.

Sternford Moyo, president of the independent Law Society, and secretary Wilbert Mapombere were arrested at their legal practices late Monday. Police also searched their their homes and offices.

The Law Society has been vocal on what it describes as state interference in the independence of the judiciary.

In particular, Mr. Moyo has written public documents outlining how the Zimbabwean government allowed ruling Zanu-PF militants to terrify the chief justice, Antony Gubbay, into leaving office last year.

Several more judges also quit, and Mr. Moyo has written that since then, the courts have been packed with judges loyal to Zanu-PF.

The arrests come as the Zimbabwean government shows signs of edginess about threats of mass action to protest President Robert Mugabe's disputed election victory in March.

The opposition MDC and the trades unions have been consulting members about whether mass action would be possible.

At the same time, there are indications of an economic collapse.

On Monday night the police fired tear gas at University of Zimbabwe students protesting that their state allowances had not arrived and that they had no money to buy food.

The Zimbabwe dollar has lost half its value on the black market in the last two weeks, and financial commentators blame the plunge on the government's desperate search for foreign currency to import staple foods.