Riot police stormed the home of a Zimbabwean opposition member of parliament on the outskirts of Harare on Saturday, arresting him and 24 others who were holding a party meeting, the party and authorities said.
Costa Machingauta, his wife and 17-year-old daughter were beaten by police at their home in the suburb of Budiriro, south of Harare, before being taken away, officials from the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) said.
Police said the meeting was unauthorized and those arrested would be charged with breaching public order.
“We confirm the arrest of the CCC activists. They were attending an unauthorized meeting,” police spokesman Paul Nyathi told AFP. He did not want to comment on the accusations of beating the MP and his family, but assured that more details on the operation would be provided on Sunday.
Opposition parties and rights organizations have recently denounced an increased crackdown ahead of this year’s general elections.
CCC spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of using the police against political opponents.
A large number of police officers laid siege to Machingauta’s house on Saturday before violently breaking up the meeting, Mahere said, adding that another influential CCC member of parliament, Amos Chibaya, was arrested.
“Armed police officers beat up Machingauta’s wife and daughter and set up a roadblock on the road to his home… We want elections, not war,” she said.
We want elections, not war,” she said. She said the rules governing public order do not apply to such a private meeting.
Discontent is mounting in Zimbabwe as President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Robert Mugabe in 2017 following a military-backed coup, tries to reduce poverty, control inflation and end chronic power outages.