By Jeffrey Muvundusi
Authorities arrested three top MDC officials and 16 party youths in response to intra-party violence that erupted at the local party headquarters last weekend.
MDC provincial chairperson Gift Banda, youth chair Mlandu Ncube and 16 other party youths were picked up by police over their alleged involvement in the bloody clashes between allies of new party president Nelson Chamisa and vice president Thokozani Khupe over the weekend here as the fighting over the control of the party boils over.
They are accused of contravening section 36(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 in relation to causing public violence.
This comes as the party on Monday deployed its security and intelligence head and arbiter-general Giles Mutsekwa to the city to the probe the disturbances that left Khupe’s personal assistant Witness Dube and others badly injured.
Vehicles, including Khupe’s Landrover Discovery and provincial office property were left damaged during the skirmishes that have since been roundly condemned as the party surges towards the elections.
Representing Banda and others, Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, confirmed the arrest.
“I can confirm that Banda and 16 others have been arrested and detained at Bulawayo Law and Order section. Police are finishing recording their warned and cautioned statements,” he said.
By the time of going to press, Dube said he was not certain if his clients will be detained overnight.
He also revealed that only 12 had been charged.
“I will ask police to release them into my custody. Police say they are waiting for instructions from their superiors on whether to release them or not,” he said.
Police provincial spokesperson Precious Simango could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Party acting spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo condemned what she termed selective application of the law.
“Our members together with the provincial chair …Banda have been arrested they are currently at the police station as we are speaking. They are being held where they are being made to sign warned and cautioned statements,” Khumalo said.
“What surprised me is that we were the first to report this incident of violence but our members are the ones who get arrested. The funny party of it is that, Khupe and her driver …Dube were there at the police station and they were escorted out of the police station yet they were also supposed to be charged,” she said.
In a warned a cautioned statement seen by this paper, Banda denied the charges.
In a statement, party provincial spokesperson Felix Mafa Sibanda called for fair litigation.
“We the MDC are calling fair litigation and there should be no fear or favour regardless one’s political affiliation. It is on record that our members now being persecuted were the first to report to the same charge office against Abedinico Bhebhe and his cabal,” Sibanda. DailyNews