Bail for Zimbabwe MDC members


A Zimbabwe court released on bail 27 opposition supporters arrested by police last week on accusations of fomenting post-election violence.

Magistrate Francis Vhitorini granted $50 (£38.5) bail to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members.
“The court indicated it did not consider any of them to be a flight risk. The judgement was so brilliant we are still trying to process it,” MDC lawyer Denford Halimani said.

Violence erupted last week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party won the national election. The MDC disputes the outcome and said the vote was rigged.

Six people died in an army clampdown on protests in scenes reminiscent of the heavy-handed rule of Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe when he was toppled last year in a de facto military coup.

Nelson Chamisa, Mnangagwa’s main rival, is expected to mount a court challenge against the result this week. The MDC said security forces were abducting its members in night raids to intimidate the party and stop it challenging Mnangagwa’s win in the presidential vote.

Zimbabwe’s foreign minister denied the accusations, telling diplomats if there was any evidence the military would investigate.

The Criminal Investigations Department said in a statement police were looking for former finance minister and opposition figure Tendai Biti, MDC chairman Morgen Komichi and MDC youth leader Happymore Chidziva in connection with last week’s violence.

Zimbabweans hoped the vote would rid the country of its global pariah status and launch an economic recovery, but watched an all too familiar pattern where the ruling party is declared winner and the opposition rejects the outcome.

Under the constitution, a losing presidential candidate has seven days from when a winner is declared to challenge the result at the Constitutional Court. The Court must rule within 14 days. Mnangagwa’s inauguration will have to wait for the outcome of any court challenge.