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Zimbabwe Police Raid Opposition Offices - 2003-04-25

Zimbabwe police raided the national offices of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Friday, the last day of a three-day general strike.

Some of those arrested outside the opposition's city center offices were waiting for assistance for injuries suffered the day before.

They had been arrested at a funeral vigil for a political activist, who allegedly died from injuries he received while in police custody.

Others arrested in Friday's raid were regional and national officials working for the opposition. The party says there was no valid warrant for the raid.

Opposition members in the offices said about 100 riot policemen and others in plain clothes swarmed all over the building, and in addition to arresting people, ransacked the opposition's offices.

The raid came at the end of a national strike called by the trade union movement. It is the second strike in a month, the first was called by the MDC on March 18 and 19.

On the final day, more shops and offices appeared to be open than on the first day, when most cities and towns were closed down. Several banks opened Friday, as it was also pay day for many workers. But most of the industrial areas remained closed.

The government officially warned transport operators that their licenses would be withdrawn, if they did not make their buses available to workers.

This latest strike was called to protest a recent 300 percent increase in the price of fuel, due to which, many workers are earning less than their monthly transport costs.

On Friday, the government issued regulations for bus fares for heavily-traveled commuter routes, following the fuel price increase. But bus operators said Friday they would have to ignore the government's orders, or they would go bankrupt.

In the case of Tondera Machiridza, the activist who died while in custody, police say they have arrested two policemen who they have accused of assault. The names of those arrested have not yet been released, nor have details been given of whether the two accused are in custody.