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Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai sent to hospital
Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Injured Tsvangirai taken to hospital
Zimbabwean opposition leader sent for hospital tests after appearing in court with deep head wound from what activists say was attempt by police to kill him.

Zimbabwe: State Warns MDC Against Lawlessness

The Herald (Harare)
March 13, 2007

THE Government has warned the MDC against engaging in violent activities, saying it will not fold its arms and watch the opposition unleash lawlessness.

Minister of Home Affairs Cde Kembo Mohadi said it was the duty of the regulating authority (police) in a given area to impose a ban on all politically-related demonstrations and rallies if they had reasonable grounds to suspect the gatherings might disturb peace.

The minister said this at a Press conference last night flanked by his deputy Cde Obert Matshalaga and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri.

The regulatory authorities -- who are Officers Commanding Districts -- have the power to issue the ban without consulting the police commissioner or even the minister.

The powers are given to them under Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act.

But if those whose activities are banned have a grievance, they can appeal to the minister who could vary, uphold or set aside such an order.

Cde Mohadi said following the ban on rallies in Harare and Chitungwiza by police last month, the MDC appealed to him on March 8, 2007 through their lawyers.

He said he responded to them and set March 17 as the date on which he would consider their appeal.

But POSA clearly stated that noting an appeal did not suspend the order of a regulatory authority, the minister said.

"This order was still standing and they decided to go ahead and convene the meeting disregarding the standing order given," said Cde Mohadi.

Cde Mohadi said last weekend's planned gathering was not a prayer meeting as the opposition had claimed under the so-called Save Zimbabwe Campaign co-ordinated by the MDC's purported Democratic Resistance Committees (DRC) and other anti-Government civic organisations.

"It was not a prayer meeting because there are flyers which said it was an MDC defiance campaign and they were coercing people to attend the rally," said Cde Mohadi.

"As police, we could not just stand by and see the country go on fire. So we deployed and managed to quell the disturbances. The leaders of the opposition (Morgan) Tsvangirai and (Arthur) Mutambara were actually commanding (hooligans) using children as shields.

The flyers read: "Save Zimbabwe Rally. MDC Defiance Campaign. MDC joins other democratic forces under the auspices of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign for the rally to be held on 11 March 2007 at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, starting at 10am. 'It is defiance or death'."

Spokesperson of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign Jacob Mafume told reporters at a Press conference yesterday that they would continue to defy the law.

"We are not going to stop," he said.

But Cde Mohadi said they were just provoking a situation whose consequences they would regret.

"We are not going to be found wanting. We will enforce the law to its fullest. We expect people to adhere to the law."

He dismissed claims that police were in defiance of any court order, saying no member of the police force was served with the High Court order giving the green-light for the MDC to hold a rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield two weeks ago.

He said the arrested persons were in custody pending finalisation of investigations.

The minister took a swipe at Commonwealth Secretary General Mr Don McKinnon, saying he had no right to comment about Zimbabwe as it had long ceased to be a member of the grouping of mostly former British colonies.

"What has he got to do with Zimbabwe? We are not a member of the Commonwealth. We long moved out of the Commonwealth. We are not interfering with the Commonwealth."

Mr McKinnon was quoted on the BBC saying they had tried everything on Zimbabwe and did not know whether they should send a batallion.

The Herald is reliably informed that late yesterday afternoon the ambassadors of Germany, Britain and Sweden came unannounced to see Cde Chihuri at Police General Headquarters. They were turned away because they did not notify the police of their visit and were not even accompanied by an officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as per diplomatic procedures.

It is believed they panicked over the unearthing of the plans they had mooted with the MDC. Cde Mohadi said the agenda of the MDC was regime change and they were paying youths to engage in violence.

"Although I have not got confirmation from the Police Commissioner, it would appear the report is credible. Government expects ambassadors to be procedural in their interface with Government and all diplomatic routes must be channelled through the Foreign Ministry," said Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde George Charamba.

MDC faction leaders Tsvangirai and Mutambara were arrested together with faction secretary general Tendai Biti, secretary for information and publicity Nelson Chamisa, his deputy Grace Kwinjeh, secretary for policy and research Sekai Holland and Job Sikhala, who is aligned to the Mutambara faction.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku was also arrested together with several other suspects, who are also in police custody.

The opposition and civic leaders were arrested in Highfield for allegedly going around inciting the people to engage in violent acts.

Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the eight were still in custody and were expected to appear in court soon.

"We are still detaining them with a view to preferring charges of public violence and instigating public violence," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

He said no arrests were made as of yesterday but investigations were continuing.

"We are still investigating the case and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to protect the public and to maintain law and order," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

He indicated that the police would screen and release those exonerated.

The opposition supporters, under the so-called Save Zimbabwe Campaign, had running battles with the police on Sunday which left one person dead and property worth millions of dollars destroyed.

Yesterday afternoon, diplomats from European Union countries accredited to Zimbabwe thronged at Harvest House, the Tsvangirai MDC faction's headquarters, to show their solidarity with the arrested opposition leaders.

Sources within the opposition said the faction's deputy president, Ms Thokozani Khupe, who is the acting party leader, addressed ambassadors from Western countries.

More than 20 vehicles with diplomatic registration numbers were parked along Nelson Mandela Avenue, almost causing a traffic jam as the diplomats came to get a briefing from the opposition officials.

In Highfield, business resumed and traders were operating normally at Machipisa and Gazaland shopping centres which were virtual war zones at the weekend as MDC supporters clashed with the police.

Police still maintained some presence in the suburb keeping vigil of the situation.

At Machipisa Police Station, Tsvangirai's Mercedes Benz, Chamisa's Nissan twin cab and Madhuku's Peugeot 306 could be seen parked within the grounds.

A police officer armed with a rifle was manning the gate at the police station.

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