In Chiredzi, a lawyer and eight residents have been denied bail after their recent arrest on charges of contravening provisions of the repressive Maintenance of Peace & Order (MOPO) Act. The lawyer, Farai Chauke of Chauke & Associates Legal Practitioners, along with Mollen Shonhai (27), Gladmore Gungubu (18), Kudzai Madyira (27), Charles Mungate (50), Lloyd Mushari (26), Agrippa Dhambureni (29), and Simon Hlomani (56) were apprehended on Wednesday, July 5, 2023.
The arrests were made following what the police described as an illegal gathering outside Tshovani Stadium in Chiredzi, Masvingo province. According to prosecutors, the eight Chiredzi residents allegedly refused to comply with an order to disperse from the stadium after law enforcement agents prohibited the political party CCC from conducting a campaign rally scheduled for July 5, 2023.
Despite their plea for bail, the lawyer and residents were denied release pending further legal proceedings.
This incident shines a spotlight on the enforcement of the MOPO Act and its potential impact on citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly and expression. Critics argue that the Act is being employed as a means to suppress political activities and limit opposition party campaigns in the run-up to elections.