Police yesterday stormed into a prayer meeting in Harare and arrested at least 36 worshippers, claiming the gathering was political.
They were arrested at the Dutch Reformed Church building in central Harare where they intended to launch ‘The Zimbabwe We Want’ campaign.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests and said the accused were being questioned for public disorder at Harare Central Police Station. He told NewsDay:
In matters of security when people want to have processions, gatherings or demonstrations, they have to inform the regulating authority so that security measures are put in place.
In this case where there is no co-operation and people start to gather contravening the country’s laws then the police have a responsibility to move in and ensure that law and order is maintained.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said over 30 members of Bishop Ancelimo Magaya’s the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny were arrested by the police who were disrupting a “Zimbabwe We Want” campaign protest.
Forum lawyers attended and confirmed that they were yet to be charged as of Friday. The arrest followed a police ban on their intended “Zimbabwe We Want” campaign that was scheduled for Friday.
ZLHR lawyers who attended to the arrested persons said police barred them from accessing their clients.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Zimbabwe Divine Destiny leader Bishop Ancelimo Magaya said the clergy were deeply concerned about the country’s political and socio-economic crisis. He said:
We need a new Zimbabwe with a low cost of that and remember, we were promised in 2018 that education will be free yet we are here to pray to God for that Zimbabwe we want.
We are saddened that the meeting that we had planned was blocked. We believed that space is sacred, which would allow us freedom of worship.
There is growing discontent over the economic meltdown as rising prices of basic commodities have eroded the workers’ salaries.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), an umbrella body of civic groups, condemned the arrest of the worshippers as barbaric.
The arrest follows concerns over the shrinking democratic space in the country.