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US expresses concern over persecution of opposition members in Zimbabwe

The United States Embassy in Harare has expressed concern over the Zanu-PF regime’s continued persecution of the opposition in the country saying this was creating an uneven environment ahead of the 2023 harmonised general elections.

This comes after the arrest of 26 members of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) including two MPs, Costa Machingauta and Amos Chibaya for holding what the regime deemed “an unsanctioned meeting” in Budiriro, Harare on Saturday.

Machingauta was only arrested on Tuesday over the Saturday meeting.

The US embassy in Harare believes that the continued arrests and suppression of the opposition will not usher a peaceful and inclusive election.

“We note with concern the events of January 7 and 14 that have targeted opposition members and supporters. As Zimbabwe approaches its 2023 general elections, the U.S. Embassy continues to urge peaceful and inclusive political processes,” the embassy said in a statement on Twitter.

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Confirming the arrest of Machingauta, the CCC, in a statement said the meeting was private and its members were innocent.

“We’ve received a report that our MP, Hon Costa Machingauta has been arrested in connection with the Budiriro internal party meeting which was held at his private residence on Saturday, bringing the number of the dragnet arrest to 26. They are innocent,” read the statement.

It is said that, before making arrests, the law enforcement agents fired teargas at an opposition party gathering in Budiriro before arresting 25 of its members including MP Chibaya.

Police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi said it was an “unauthorized meeting”.

“It was an unsanctioned gathering according to the local authorities who is the officer commanding Budiriro. I am receiving numerous reports that people were beaten, we will release a full statement in due course,” Nyathi said.

The country is set to hold elections either in July or August. But the wave of politically motivated violence is increasing in both urban and rural Zimbabwe, rising ahead of the 2023 elections.

Two weeks ago, suspected Zanu-PF thugs viciously assaulted elderly men and women and interrogated them for attending a gathering of the CCC in Murewa.

A video which has since gone viral shows Zanu-PF thugs accosting villagers and flogging them ruthlessly with logs for convening the meeting.

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