HomeOpinion & AnalysisMtetwa incarceration an ominous sign of violent elections

Mtetwa incarceration an ominous sign of violent elections

The arrest of top lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa on Sunday March 17 has reinforced the notion that the selective application of law in Zimbabwe is rampant.

Sunday View by Maunganidze Mamuse

It also strengthens the argument that there is need for security sector realignment if we are to hold a credible election.

This is not to suggest Thabani Mpofu, Warship Dumba, Alex Matsinde, Anna Muzvidziwa and their lawyer Mtetwa were not supposed to be arrested if any offence was committed; it is the manner in which the same police react whenever anyone from Zanu PF is involved in a crime.

Even when names were given for the suspects in Christpowers Maisiri’s death in Headlands last month, no one was picked up for questioning, but on March 16 2013, an MDC activist, Samson Magunura from Headlands was arrested on allegations of petrol bombing a Zanu PF ward 12 aspiring councillor William Chapepa in that area.

The police always develop cold feet whenever a report is made against a member of Zanu PF, but will react in a flash whenever the same party is on the receiving end. This is probably what Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri meant when he professed his allegiance to Zanu PF.

Our greatest worry though is that the security chiefs have taken it upon themselves to campaign for Zanu PF, and this has compromised their constitutional duty which is to protect the nation and not political parties or individuals.

Recent reports which indicated that, at a police workshop in Matabeleland conducted and facilitated by the Police Professional Updating Centre, officers were told not only to register as voters but to also vote for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party made sad reading.

There is no problem in urging everyone to register as a voter but to address the recruits and telling them to vote for a political party is mischief.

To the peace-loving and serving officers of this nation, be careful not to be used by your superiors who will turn against you when the tables are turned. Indeed you should be registered voters, but as to who you should vote for, let that be your secret. You have, like anyone else, a constitutional right to choice.

What does it reflect when our police ignore a court order? On Monday March 18, Mtetwa’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo was granted a high court order to secure her release, but as they wished, the police refused to let her go. All this was done in the face of the Sadc observers here for the referendum!

Is it not therefore far-fetched to say within Zanu PF there are some who are working against the party? President Mugabe should be concerned about this development.

As it stands now, the action by the police, especially their refusal to implement a court order, has managed to put Zimbabwe on the international arena for all the wrong reasons. In a joint statement, the International Commission of Jurists, the Pan African Lawyers Union and Sadc Lawyers Association described Mtetwa’s arrest as “unlawful’’. The Law Society of South Africa also added its voice.

Even if we are to have a new constitution, it will not be the panacea to our crisis. A constitution is just a piece of paper, what is critical is for the political leadership, especially Mugabe, to ensure that we embrace a spirit of constitutionalism. It is one thing to have a new charter, but quite another to abide by it. It all needs political will.

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