MDC denied access to imprisoned members

HARARE - Opposition MDC party leaders have been denied access to visit its imprisoned members who were arrested for allegedly causing violence during the fuel price hike protests in Bulawayo last month.

They are being detained at the second capital’s Mlondolozi Women’s Prison and are still awaiting trial.

MDC Alliance national chairperson Thabitha Khumalo said: “We went to visit our comrades at Mlondolozi with the intention of giving them pads and food since the institutions are failing to provide standard meals and pads to inmates.

“We were denied access to see them and were advised to apply to see them at the provincial offices in Mhlahlandlela,” Khumalo said.

Khumalo said prison guards told her delegation that they were not allowed to visit the inmates because they are not their relatives.

The national chairperson said their supporters have not been convicted and therefore have the right to proper food and sanitary wear and if convicted, they still have to enjoy basic rights.

“When I pointed out to them that among us there were relatives of the incarcerated, they said the relatives were supposed to come alone without the company of party officials. I am gutted that as a leader I’m denied the right to see our party members who are in jail and detained on false charges. It takes away ubuntu,” she added.

Efforts to get a comment from the Bulawayo Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson were fruitless.

Several opposition supporters were arrested around the country following the recent national stay-away organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and #This Flag leader Evan Mawarire.

In Bulawayo, Khumalo told this publication that so far four out of eight MDC supporters that were detained at Khami Remand Prison have been granted $100 each.

The incident comes after MDC officials were also recently barred from bringing food to party members detained at KweKwe Remand Prison.

Government blames the main opposition party and Non-Governmental Organisations for the violence that rocked the country in January following President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement of fuel price increases.

In 2016, the late former MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was also blocked from visiting his incarcerated party members after he was accused of disregarding prison regulations. 

According to the ZPCS regulations, he was supposed to write a letter to the Justice ministry notifying them of his intention to visit as he was not going in his personal capacity.

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