US concerned about arbitrary arrests, detentions and state violence in Zimbabwe

US concerned about arbitrary arrests, detentions and state violence in Zimbabwe
Published: 10 August 2018 (65 Views)
United States Senator Chris Coons said the Donald Trump administration would hold the Zimbabwean government responsible for the safety of Biti and other opposition members reportedly detained by the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration after the July 30 polls.

Mnangagwa controversially won the presidential poll with 50,8% of the vote, while his close rival MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa got 44,3%, a result he is disputing and ready to challenge in court.

Coons, a Democrat and member of the US Senate foreign relations committee, in a statement condemned the crackdown on civilians by State security agents, saying such practice had no place in a democracy.

"I am watching the situation in Zimbabwe very closely, and I am concerned about reports of arbitrary arrests, detentions, and government-sponsored violence. These tactics have no place in a democracy, and the government must ensure they stop immediately," he said.

"Any disagreements over last month's election should be dealt with through fair and open investigations, hearings, and legal processes. I am particularly alarmed to hear that members of the MDC Alliance have been detained by government-backed security forces."

Coons said the arrest of Biti was especially unnerving.

"The US Senate will hold the government of Zimbabwe responsible for ensuring Biti and other detainees are not harmed in any way. I also call upon the Trump administration, the US State Department, the governments of Zimbabwe, Zambia and other regional actors to stand against politically-motivated arrests and to support and promote the rule of law," he said.

Coons implored the Zimbabwean government to restore order in the country, arguing the people had suffered for a long time through acts of repression and Mnangagwa's administration should signal a break from the past.

"It is not too late for the leaders of Zimbabwe to restore the sense of hope and fairness that its people deserve," he said.

Meanwhile, in court yesterday, the State, led by Justin Uladi, did not oppose Biti's bail and magistrate Francis Mapfumo ordered the former Finance minister to deposit

$5 000 at the Clerk of Court, deposit title deeds of one of his properties worth

$200 000, surrender his passport, report twice a day to the police, continue residing at his given address, not to interfere with witnesses and not to address political gatherings or Press conferences.

Biti was dramatically arrested on the Zambian side of the border where he intended to apply for political asylum on Wednesday.

After a scuffle with Zimbabwean authorities at Chirundu Border Post, he was allowed to proceed to Zambia, but the neighbouring country refused to grant him asylum and handed him back to Zimbabwean authorities.

He arrived at the court in an unmarked Toyota Quantum omnibus, seemingly relaxed and immediately told journalists that he was in high spirits.

In the first count, the court alleged that on July 31, Biti held a Press conference in Highlands where he unlawfully and unofficially declared Chamisa as the winner of the just-ended presidential race.

The State alleged that Biti usurped the role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), adding that they would use a video recording downloaded from YouTube to back their claim against the opposition politician.

On the second count, the State alleged that on August 1, Biti who was driving in the same vehicle with Jim Kunaka, a former Zanu-PF youth leader, committed public violence when he addressed about 60 people armed with stones and sticks near Simon Vengai Muzenda bus terminus in the capital.

It is alleged that after Biti's address, people went on the rampage and went on to destroy property at the Zanu-PF provincial offices that included five vehicles and a bus.

The State further alleged that after Biti's address, the crowd went on to burn Mnangagwa's campaign posters.

In court yesterday, Biti's defence lawyers led by Beatrice Mtetwa were of the view that their client was abducted by the State and that they had serious issues that include assessing whether the he was properly brought before the court and placed on remand.

The lawyers are preparing a bruising fight with the State over the manner Biti was arrested and brought to court.

"He was not brought here in terms of the country's extradition laws, Sadc protocol on extradition and he was not brought before the court in terms of the law," Mtetwa said.

Scores of lawyers, diplomats and opposition supporters were in attendance.

- newsday

Tags: US, Violence, Biti,
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