Senior opposition leader Tendai Biti arrested at border while trying to flee Zimbabwe

By Karyn Maughan | TimesLive |

Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti’s lawyer says he was arrested on Wednesday morning by the country’s police – while trying to seek political asylum in Zambia.

Former Zimbabwean Finance Minister and MDC Alliance member Tendai Biti greets supporters outside the MDC Alliance's headquarters in Harare on July 31 (CREDIT: MARCO LONGARI/AFP)
Former Zimbabwean Finance Minister and MDC Alliance member Tendai Biti greets supporters outside the MDC Alliance’s headquarters in Harare on July 31 (CREDIT: MARCO LONGARI/AFP)

Attorney Nqobizitha Mlilio has told TimesLIVE that Biti was arrested “on Zambian soil” at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

As yet‚ there is no confirmation of the arrest‚ nor its basis‚ by the Zimbabwean police.

Police documents supplied by Mlilo‚ however‚ suggest that authorities were investigating Biti for “unofficially and unlawfully” declaring MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa the duly elected president of Zimbabwe‚ in alleged violation of Zimbabwean electoral law.

He also stands accused of public violence for “acting in consent with his accomplices still at large while armed with firearms‚ ammunition‚ stones‚ alleged to have committed act of violence and proceeded to burn various vehicles and one bus at the ZANU-PF provincial headquarters”.

In other words‚ Zimbabwean police appear to be blaming Biti for the violence that flared up in Zimbabwe after the country’s disputed election results were announced and ZANU PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa was named as president.

Mnangagwa will be inaugurated this weekend.

Earlier this week‚ Mlilo told TimesLIVE that Biti was “in hiding”‚ but that he had been assured that he was not wanted by the police.

Biti’s attempt to seek political asylum in Zambia came after an alleged attempt on his life on Monday‚ during which Mlilo says a gunman in an unmarked silver Mercedes Benz opened fire on Biti’s car.

That incident occurred after the home of Biti’s elderly mother was repeatedly surrounded by unknown men‚ and his younger brother was allegedly abducted after dropping his wife and children at an undisclosed location.