4 activists arrested at airport
Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police on Monday arrested four people at Robert Mugabe International Airport believed to be part of shadowy anti-Government organisations working with the MDC-Alliance who were planning to roll out violent demonstrations in the country after receiving training from abroad.
This confirms a report by our Harare Bureau last week which correctly reported that eight individuals – including a multimedia journalist from a local newspaper – were attending workshops in Zimbabwe, the region as well as Czech Republic and Maldives on tactics to abet the violence.
Upon the discovery of the plot, our Harare Bureau understands that the groups’ travel plans were altered to cover up and wrong-foot authorities.
But a group of four was arrested coming from Europe.
Those that were arrested by the police are the Citizens Manifesto co-ordinator Tatenda Mombeyarara (37), Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe Advocacy Officer George Makoni (38), Nyasha Frank Mpahlo (35) of Transparency International Zimbabwe and executive director of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), Gamuchirai Mukura (31).
Following their arrests, the four were taken to Harare Central Police Station for further investigations.
They were last night still in custody and will appear in court today.
Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana yesterday confirmed that the police had arrested the four soon after their arrival from the Maldives.
“The four were arrested after disembarking from a South African Airways flight while coming from the Maldives and are currently assisting police with investigations,” he said.
Shadowy organisations and some rogue elements with links to the MDC-Alliance had been circulating messages since last week, through social media, instigating members of the public to engage in civil disobedience and engage in demonstrations in central Harare, but people did not take heed.
The police maintained a heavy presence ready to deal with any unlawful actions in Harare and other cities.
Law enforcement agencies said there were no incidences of disturbances and violence reported countrywide.
A tight vigil by the police followed information at hand that there were shadowy organisations seeking to unleash a wave of violent demonstrations beginning next month, with ring leaders of civil unrest having received training in the Czech Republic and the Maldives.
Further, there were revelations that after the training, the groups briefed the MDC-Alliance leadership led by Mr Nelson Chamisa.
It is understood that the training in the Maldives was conducted by Centre for Applied Non-violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian organisation which trained MDC activists who were involved in the co-ordination of the January 14 to 16, 2019 violent protests.
CANVAS was founded in 2003 by Serbian nationals Srdja Popovic and Ivan Morovic and has been involved in the training of anti-government activists in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Lebanon, Tibet, Ukraine and Venezuela.