from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWEAN police have set free nine liberation war veterans arrested and detained for allegedly protesting against low pension payouts.
The veterans were arrested on Wednesday and charged with “participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry” as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers accused them of staging a protest outside the offices of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, in the capital Harare.
The ex-combatants are Faith Chamanda, Daphne Kanoti, Isso Madzivanyika, Nyasha Manyana, Ruvimbo Sphyina Maphosa, Maron Mabvunzaneyi Mazikana, Jordan Nderezina, Shoorai Nyamangodo and Wonderful Sabarauta.
They had been expected to appear in court on Friday but officers released them around midnight and advised their lawyer, Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Chawona Kanoti of Kanoti and Partners that they will contact them if they wanted to pursue with prosecution.
The arrest of the nine is an unprecedented development in the veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle, as they are allies of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union –Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
However, in the late 1990s, they protested at the headquarters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in Harare and successfully lobbied the administration of Robert Mugabe (now late) to pay them gratuities of Z$50 000 (equivalent to US$4 000) each.
The payments, more than a decade after independence, were blamed as the trigger to Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.
– CAJ News