Friday 22 January 2021


MDC ALLIANCE vice-president Tendai Biti has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of deliberately imprisoning opponents and critics in COVID-19-infested jails as a way of exterminating them through exposure to the deadly pandemic.

This came after MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere has revealed that she tested positive to COVID-19.

The opposition activist, who is facing a charge of communicating falsehoods, was locked up at Harare Remand Prison for seven days. She believes she contracted COVID-19 during incarceration at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

Mahere was on Monday released on $10 000 bail and went straight to test for COVID-19, claiming that prison authorities were not enforcing preventive measures in prisons.

On Wednesday, Biti tweeted that the government should take full responsibility for Mahere’s COVID-19 status.

“The regime must take full responsibility of Mahere’s situation. It must take full responsibility of every Zimbabwean who has succumbed to COVID-19 misgovernance, cluelessness and recklessness are crimes against humanity,” Biti said.

Upon her release, Mahere complained about deplorable conditions in the holding cells at Harare Central Police Station where she spent a night before she was taken to court.

The activist was jailed together with party deputy chairman Job Sikhala and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who are still in custody.

The three face similar charges in a case involving a widely circulated video linking a police officer to the murder of a baby while enforcing COVID-19 lockdown rules at a Harare bus stop.

Similarly, Harare mayor and MDC Alliance official Jacob Mafume was recently released from remand prison where he had been languishing for nearly a month. He is accused of land deals, corruption and bribery, but he denies both charges.

Mafume’s lawyers claim the city father was now in isolation after two cellmates recently succumbed to the virus.

Student activist Allan Moyo has also been locked up at Harare Remand Prison for more than 40 days, charged with inciting public violence.

Biti said the targeting of party activists for arrest and incarceration was all calculated to expose them to COVID-19 which continues to take many lives.

“Zimbabwe prisons are imploding with COVID-19. Inmates were exposed to conditions that were degrading, cruel and inhumane long before COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated a desperate situation. By incarcerating activists, the regime is intent on eliminating activists and every other inmate,” the Harare East lawmaker said.Newsday


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