Zimbabwean opposition claims soldiers hunting its supporters for detention

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Zimbabwean opposition claims soldiers hunting its supporters for detention

Spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda claimed many people have gone into hiding following violence sparked by the election result.


Opposition party supporters arrested during a raid arrive a court (STR/AP)
Opposition party supporters arrested during a raid arrive a court (STR/AP)

Zimbabwean soldiers are searching parts of the capital for opposition supporters to detain after the disputed election, the country’s main opposition party has claimed.

Nkululeko Sibanda, of the Movement for Democratic Change, spoke at a courthouse in Harare where about 20 detained supporters awaited a hearing. He said the group are accused of inciting public violence.

He said: “A lot of people are hiding. It’s scarier than the Mugabe times.”

There was no independent confirmation of the allegation.

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Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photo: AP

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said he wants to work with the opposition to rebuild the country after decades of repression under his former mentor, Robert Mugabe.

Mr Sibanda said he is concerned the government could try to implicate opposition supporters in the deaths of six people who were killed during a military crackdown in Harare on Wednesday. Soldiers opened fire on protesters, some of whom were rioting.

As riot police circulated in the capital on Saturday, supporters of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa urged him to keep fighting a day after he forcefully rejected Mr Mnangagwa’s election victory and alleged manipulation.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has said the president won with 50.8% of the vote while Mr Chamisa received 44.3%.

Mr Chamisa has said the opposition’s own count shows he won the vote and they will challenge the election results in court.

“We’re doing all to secure your vote & defend your WILL,” he said on Twitter on Saturday.

International election observers who were invited by Mr Mnangagwa’s government after years of being banned by Mugabe were pulling out after issuing mixed reports on Monday’s vote.

While the election itself was called peaceful, the observers expressed concern over the lack of transparency in the voters’ roll and the “extreme bias” of state-run media in favour of Mr Mnangagwa. And in a joint statement the observers criticised the military’s “excessive” use of force.

A credible election is a crucial step for lifting international sanctions and attracting badly needed foreign investment in Zimbabwe’s long-collapsed economy.

Mr Mnangagwa on Friday claimed the vote had been free and fair, praising the “unprecedented flowering of freedom and democracy in our beloved homeland” while saying he wanted an independent investigation into the deadly unrest.

Press Association

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