Zimbabwe police arrest, then release, top leaders
Police arrested Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube and at least 20 other senior members of the smallest of the three parties within the ruling coalition Sunday. They were released hours later.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Zimbabwe police arrested and then released top leaders of a political party in the country's fragile ruling coalition government for violating provisions of Zimbabwe’s strict Public Order and Security Act, which prevents political meetings without police clearance.Skip to next paragraph
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The arrest of Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube and at least 20 other senior members of the smallest of the three parties within the ruling coalition – the Movement for Democratic Change-Ncube (MDC-N) – is just the latest of several provocative moves by security forces loyal to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.
Mr. Ncube and the other MDC-N leaders were held for several hours at Hwange Police Station, near the southwestern city of Victoria Falls, before being allowed to continue the drive back to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.
“Our president, Prof. Welshman Ncube, and other prominent members of the MDC-N were arrested this evening [Sunday] at a roadblock,” says Kurauone Chihwayi, spokesman for the MDC-N, in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. “It’s not true that they were holding an illegal meeting. We as a party absolutely condemn their arrest, and we want the guarantors [of the power-sharing government] to read the riot act to the people who are doing this to disturb this arrangement of government.”
"While the charges have been dropped, and the police have apologized to Professor Ncube, informally, we are concerned because we understand this is the hidden work of [Mugabe's ZANU-PF party] against our party," Mr. Chihwayi said on Sunday night.
The power-sharing government – with Mr. Mugabe maintaining control of all security forces as president and commander-in-chief, and the former opposition parties of Ncube and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai controlling a few economic postings – has been unstable from the start, and prone to repeated shocks.
Several ministers from Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been detained or arrested since Mugabe's government was forced into a power sharing government after losing a 2008 election and refusing to relinquish power.