MUTARE – Several Zanu PF supporters were arrested in Mutare on Tuesday after staging an illegal march and forcibly opening two flea markets that were shut down by the local authority last year as a safety measure against Covid-19.
The ruling party activists, who likely face charges of breaching coronavirus regulations, were reported to have broken into Chidzere and Sakubva markets and parceled out 3,000 vending stalls amongst themselves.
Riot police intercepted their procession and made arrests as the boisterous protestors marched towards the city center, singing and waving placards, local city press reported.
Mutare town clerk Anthony Mutara said of the arrests: “Order is very important in any society for the survival of us all,” according to the ManicaPost newspaper.
The arrests must have caught the Zanu PF activists by surprise as such treatment is largely preserved for members of opposition political parties as well as human rights campaigners even under the coronavirus preventive regime.
Offenders from the ruling party and government are almost always guaranteed a pass, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the forefront of violating the regulations put in place by his own government.
Under the current protocols, public gatherings are only limited to 50 people. But last week Mnangagwa gathered several hundreds in downtown Harare for the unveiling of a statue of the spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda.
Social distancing was scant at the event, and mask-wearing did not appear strictly enforced.
Dozens of opposition MDC Alliance activists including Joana Mamombe, Netsai Marova, and Cecilia Chimbiri, and thousands of ordinary citizens have been arrested for allegedly violating the guidelines.