MUTARE - An opposition legislator has been charged with violent disorder during a demonstration against politicisation of aid in his constituency.
Mutasa Central MDC MP Trevor Saruwaka appeared at Rusape Magistrates’ Courts yesterday.
Saruwaka is being accused of organising an unsanctioned demonstration in contravention of Section 25 of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
He handed himself over to the law and order section after a note was left at his Mutasa DC home, inviting him in for questioning.
He was accompanied by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights lawyers Blessing Nyamaropa and Peggy Tavagadza.
Nyamaropa said the legislator was released after being charged.
“They said they are still continuing with investigations and would summon him when they are done,” Nyamaropa said.
Saruwaka also told the Daily News after his release that police initially were keen to know what role he played in organising the demonstrators and writing of the petition.
“I didn’t organise the demonstration,” he said. “I can’t remember the person who handed me the petition but I fully agree and associate myself with the contents in the petition.
“I also accompanied the villagers to the DA’s office where I handed the signed petition on their behalf.”
Over 100 frustrated villagers last Friday barricaded Mutasa GMB Depot, barring a truckload of fertiliser.
Police officers aboard were also barred from leaving in a protest against politicisation of government-financed drought relief and presidential farming inputs.
The villagers only backed down after the district administrator Tendai Kapenzi addressed the community leaders who included Saruwaka.
The villagers then handed their petition to him.
The petition raised concern that “political functionaries” had usurped the aid distribution process from government agents and were “discriminating other needy people perceived to belong to political parties outside the ruling party.”
Their demands were “that all government supported programmes be only handled by government employees or civil servants and not political party functionaries”.
“...end discrimination to benefit from government initiated programs on the basis of political affiliation.
“Hunger does not recognise political party boundaries.
“That all elected officials, councillors and MPs, be allowed to exercise their oversight role in these programs since they are the legitimate representatives of the people.
“That the government of Zimbabwe, through the office of the district administrator, takes its full constitutional responsibility and obligations to care and provide all citizens irrespective of one’s political opinion or persuasion.”