Zim police arrest opposition officials

Zimbabwe police on Tuesday arrested opposition officials and a pilot delivering campaign material for Saturday’s general election at a small airport just outside Harare, a spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said.

An opposition parliamentary candidate representing Morgan Tsvangirai’s faction of the Movement for Democratic Change was among those arrested.

”One of our candidates, Jameson Timba, and his election agent Garikai Chuma were arrested this morning at Charles Prince airport as they were receiving campaign material,” Luke Tamborinyoka, an official in Tsvangirai’s MDC told Reuters.

”Apparently, the pilot was also caught up in the raid.”

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena declined to comment on the matter, saying he was yet to briefed.

Although opposition parties have said there were fewer cases of violence in the run-up to this week’s poll, they have accused the police of siding with President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party.

Earlier this month, the head of the country’s police service vowed that ”Western puppets would never rule” Zimbabwe. Mugabe frequently accuses the MDC of being puppets of former colonisers Britain.

The March 29 polls present a major test for Mugabe’s 28-year hold on power as he faces long time rival Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni in a battle for the presidency.

Premature victory celebrations

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s police commissioner vowed on Tuesday to crush any premature victory celebrations ahead of the official release of results.

”Let me at the onset indicate that we will not brook any situations of chaos or conduct likely to cause a breach of peace, pandemonium, commotion, tumult or disturbance of peace,” assistant police commissioner Faustino Mazango told a news conference in Harare.

”We will not countenance any mischievous claims by anyone winning an election just because they have led in one part of the constituency whether it be council, parliamentary, senatorial and presidential election.

”We urge politicians not to excite members of the public when they have a lead at one time or the other in any part of the constituency.”

Mazango urged people to rejoice only after announcement of official results and also warned against provocative celebrations.

”We are more than prepared to deal a deadly blow to any such repugnant forces,” Mazango said.

”These are not mere threats, but words of advice to our brothers and sisters and indeed everyone, lest people fail to understand and appreciate our actions to situations of anarchy.”

The police have also banned the carrying of weapons such as knives, catapults, axes and clubs in the run-up to the polls, and for two weeks afterwards. – Reuters, Sapa-DPA

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