Twenty-two opposition activists, facing charges of inciting violence and causing malicious damage to the ruling ZANU-PF party offices, were told Saturday to return to court Monday for bail hearings because there wasn’t enough time to hear their cases.
The charges followed a protest Wednesday that resulted in at least six deaths after the army used live ammunition. Members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance were demonstrating against the electoral commission, which they accused of rigging the July 30 election and delaying the release of the results.
Gift Mtisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said after Saturday’s court proceedings that his clients had been trapped in the MDC offices after the Wednesday protests in Harare.
“We made an application for refusal of remand because we are saying the charges are not coming from the facts [in the state papers],” Mtisi said. “The alleged facts took place at the ZANU-PF head office. These clients were not there. They were detained at Harvest House all along, from the 1st to the 2nd [of August],” with police blocking the entrance.
While these protesters were in court, some MDC officials were attending the funerals of some of the people who were shot during the Wednesday protests. The opposition has indicated that it will follow all avenues possible for it to reclaim what it calls stolen votes, including more protests.
The general election was the first one held since the ouster of founding leader Robert Mugabe last November.
Official results released Friday indicated incumbent Emerson Mnangagwa beat challenger Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance. Mnangagwa got 50.8 percent, avoiding a runoff.
On Friday, Chamisa said he was contacting the head of the Southern African Development Community, Cyril Ramaphosa, to discuss the issue.