10-month old baby detained in Zimbabwe after brutal crackdown on opposition supporters

November 22, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

November 22, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) drag an injured protester during clashes in Harare on Friday. Photo: EPA-EFE

Authorities in Zimbabwe have arrested a 10-month old baby during a crackdown on citizens in Harare’s central business district, local media reports.

The baby is currently being detained with the mother at the Harare Central Police Station and was among eight people arrested during the Wednesday crackdown.

The eight have been charged with disorderly conduct in a public place per section 41 of the country’s criminal law.

According to reports, efforts to get the 10-month old and the mother released had been unsuccessful thus far.

The arrest followed the refusal of members of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party who chanted slogans and disrupted traffic and harassed vendors along Nelson Mandela Avenue and First Street in Harare to vacate the streets after the party canceled a planned rally.

The Herald reports that police ordered the party’s supporters to assemble inside the venue and vacate the streets, but they defied the order.

The police intervention then came after the rowdy supporters continued waving placards, singing and chanting before the arrival of party leader Nelson Chamisa.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “The police engaged some MDC-Alliance officials including (Chamisa’s spokesperson) Nkululeko Sibanda and asked them remove their supporters from the road but some of them became confrontational and stoned one police officer, who was injured and taken to hospital.”

Meanwhile, Chamisa said Tuesday that he was ready for talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, calling on South Africa to act as a mediator.

Chamisa’s willingness to sit at the table with Mnangagwa followed South Africa’s announcement that Zimbabwe’s problems were largely political and called for an end to the crisis.

“The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy towards each other, which makes joint decision-making and planning extremely difficult,” South Africa’s International Relations minister Naledi Pandor said as cited by The East African.

“It seems clear that even as we support the call for an end to economic sanctions, the political dynamics that we observe are inextricably linked to the economic solutions and thus the politics and the economy as well as the social need to be confronted simultaneously.”

Zimbabwe’s opposition last year rejected President Mnangagwa’s election victory claiming the polls were rigged.

Southern African countries including South Africa, endorsed President Mnangagwa.

Reacting to Dr. Pandor’s statement, Chamisa said the opposition will welcome South Africa to mediate in the talks between him and President Mnangagwa following Pretoria’s latest pronouncements.

“For months now, we have been asking our African brothers and sisters to look into the man-made governance crisis in Zimbabwe and help us restore the dignity of citizens. We are heartened by Minister Pandor’s correct diagnosis of the major problem in Zimbabwe as toxic politics,” he said.

“We in the MDC stand ready to welcome South Africa and Sadc’s mediation in Zimbabwe to end the suffering that has gone on for far too long, and give our people hope.”

Legislators from Chamisa’s MDC party last week boycotted a parliamentary session after President Mnangagwa attended the presentation of the 2020 budget.

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