HARARE – The arrest of MDC MP for Harare West Joana Mamombe during a parliamentary workshop in Nyanga at the weekend was above board as she was taken by police well after the august House’s business, National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda has said.
Mamombe was driven back to Harare where she was detained.
She stands accused of addressing a press conference at Civic Centre in Malborough, Harare on January 14 where she called on citizens to engage in acts of civil disobedience with the intention to remove a sitting government through unconstitutional means.
The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC and rights groups have described the arrests as a perpetuation of former President Robert Mugabe’s brutal clampdown of dissenting voices.
Following Mamombe’s arrest, MDC chief whip in the National Assembly Prosper Mutseyami immediately slammed Mudenda for not doing enough to protect MPs. But Mudenda insisted Mamombe’s case was handled with utmost respect. “It is not true that she was arrested (while) on parliamentary business,” Mudenda told the Daily News yesterday adding that “we were actually on our way back home”.
Pressed to say if the protection of Parliament ends as soon as one leaves the room where the legislative business was taking place, Mudenda said; “they are overstretching the protection”.
“The people who arrested her were very civil…they actually approached me and I reminded them to observe the law which they did,” Mudenda said.
Mamombe joins a growing list of MDC activists and civil society leaders that have been arrested and charged for allegedly instigating violence during the January protests which coincided with a stay-away called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and citizen movements.
According to the MDC “a team of about eight henchmen snatched Mamombe Boko Haram style” while claiming to be from police’s law and order section. “This is a result of Zanu PF military political settlement which has seen them create vigilante groups and vested powers of the State into these killer units resulting in deaths of at least 17 people in January and 7 others on August 1, 2018,” Mutseyami said, adding that “an MP has privileges they must enjoy while on parliamentary business”.
This comes as another MDC MP, Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North) was also arrested at the weekend after he surrendered himself to the police. Mutseyami accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of being “barbaric” and disdainful towards upholding fundamental human rights.
“Mamombe was led to a Toyota Fortuner ACI 4582 and the car sped off along the Harare highway. The manner the operation was done sends shivers down the spine of the ordinary civilians.
“It is a sad incident reflecting retrogression in our constitutional democracy …,” he lamented