Police on Thursday arrested all the 33 councillors and some local authority managers in Chitungwiza who were attending a full council meeting as well as journalists who were covering the meeting.

The arrest comes barely a month after security officers in plain clothes also swooped on Harare Town House and rounded up 21 councillors attending a full council meeting, in a dramatic search for the deputy Mayor Luckson Mukunguma who had fled through the back door.

The Chitungwiza council meeting was being chaired by Councillor Peter Matiringe as both the mayor Lovemore Maiko and his deputy Musa Makweza have pending criminal abuse of office charges that restrict them from interfering with witnesses at the council offices.

They were first detained at St Mary’s Police Station in Chitungwiza before being transferred to commercial crimes unit in Harare.

Councillor Tumai Fungai Magadzire said that they were detained at St. Mary’s Police Station “with no specific charges” laid against them.

We were all taken by surprise by the police raid. We are currently at this police station and indications are that we will be ferried to Harare Central Police Station for screening. We are very much surprised about this,” said Magadzire.

Sources spoke of serious infighting among councillors and management who apparently connived to hold an “illegal meeting” to pass a resolution to replace the acting town clerk Evangelista Machona with town engineer David Duma.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said 33 councillors were picked up for allegedly violating the Urban Council’s Act.

I can confirm that we have picked up 33 councillors following a report by Harare provincial development coordinator Mr Tafadzwa Muguti that they were convening a meeting to suspend the town clerk and replacing him with a suspended official with pending cases, in violation of the Urban Councils Act.

The 33 are currently undergoing a screening exercise to see those who should be charged,” he said.

Several journalists were also arrested and locked up at the same police station.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said they are representing three journalists, “who have been arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers while covering a Full Council meeting.

The three journalists who include freelance journalists Phil Jambaya, Albert Masaka are being transferred from Chitungwiza to Harare.

At the same time, the Media Institute of Southern Africa expressed concern over the arrest of the journalists.

Credit: Zimbabwe Voice

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