Tsvangirai barred from visiting jailed protesters

HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday barred from visiting scores of political activists who are languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Prison (Chikurubi).

Despite his visit being a scheduled one, prison officials — who argued that Tsvangirai was not an ordinary person and must seek clearance first — still denied him entry.

“...we have instructions not to let you in,” a senior prison guard said.

There are hordes of opposition supporters incarcerated at Chikurubi while three known MDC activists — Yvonne Musarurwa, Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama — who were recently convicted of murder, are also held at the prison.

Tsvangirai (centre) and his aides walk away after being barred from visiting anti-Mugabe protesters jailed at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. Pic: Annie Mpalume

Reacting to the prison officials’ stance to block his visit, Tsvangirai said the law had been thrown into the dustbins.

“This move is unlawful and intended to humiliate me. I had come to see prisoners but since I have been denied access, I cannot proceed,” he said, adding that “I did not come to see the prison guards but prisoners”.

He said the move proved that President Robert Mugabe is no different from Rhodesia’s Ian Smith, who used the repressive laws to thwart democratic activities.

The veteran opposition leader was accompanied by his recently appointed deputy, Nelson Chamisa, who also condemned the prison guards’ move.

“They said that he must seek authority from the highest office . . . what is clear is that this is a political issue,” said Chamisa.

Insiders at Chikurubi claimed that there were fears that Tsvangirai’s visit could spark riots as he has a sizeable following that is locked up inside the prison.

Prior to his arrival at the prison, the situation was square and normal but when Tsvangirai attempted to enter, dozens of armed prison wardens stepped in and started milling menacingly at the gates, which were eventually locked.

“We now have a ban (on demonstrations) that is almost a state of national emergency . . . we believe it is the same tactic that was used by Smith where they were politically motivated judgments,” said Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services public relations officer Priscilla Mthembo’s mobile phone went unanswered.

Comments (1)

Asi you hanzi hunzvanyiriri mungabva mungabva matdza kutendera kutendera munhu kuti awone musungwa mmmmmm!m! Muchatongwa

Moyo moyosk - 26 September 2016

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