Zim government locksdown capital to thwart simmering tensions

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Munashe Rungano

The Zimbabwean government has lockdown Harare barring citizens from entering Harare’s central business district amid tensions over Monday’s arrest of MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s lawyer, Thabani Mpofu.

Mpofu was held by the police overnight and is expected in court Tuesday on allegations of obstructing justice by allegedly filing a fake affidavit obstructing justice.

Mpofu presented himself to Rhodesville Police Station on Monday morning in the company of his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.
According to a copy of the charges, the police accuse Mpofu of conspiring with a Makaza and Choice Damiso, who is a commissioner of oaths, of drafting an affidavit in the name of a Simbarashe Zuze, who the state alleges is non-existent.

And on Tuesday morning, thousands of residents were turned away on their way to work with the state anticipating demonstrations against the “frivolous” charges.

The army and the police order commuters off buses while motorists were turned back. Only security and medical personnel were allowed to pass the several checkpoints set up in Harare.

According to ZimLive, the new measures appeared aimed at foiling potential MDC Alliance protests outside the Harare Magistrates Court where Thabani Mpofu, a lawyer for MDC-A leader Nelson Chamisa, was due to appear charged with obstructing the course of justice.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime also faced opposition anger as MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe, who has hijacked the MDC-A party in Parliament, is expected to expel those who resist her takeover. Khupe is culling defiant MDC-A MPs armed with a controversial Supreme Court judgement which appeared to assert her as the legitimate interim leader of the party led by Chamisa.

Khupe is also reportedly seeking to capture the MDC Alliance HQ in central Harare, with the help of Mnangagwa’s security forces.

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana insisted there was nothing in particular that was necessitating the clampdown, which caused massive disruptions.

“The government has not pronounced a change in lockdown regulations. We are still on Level 2 lockdown and permitted economic activity should go ahead. Police are only enforcing the pronounced and gazetted Level 2 conditions,” Mangwana wrote on Twitter.

The tight restrictions appeared to be limited to Harare, however, with no such controls in other major cities where the flow of traffic was largely unhindered.

Zimbabwe is under an indefinite Level 2 of a national lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Most economic activity is allowed, although the informal markets remain closed.

Zimbabwe had 203 coronavirus cases on Monday night following 26 new cases, the ministry of health announced. -Additional reporting by Zimlive

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