The crackdown in Zimbabwe escalated yesterday as the government arrested two prominent members of the opposition apparently because they spoke out against President Robert Mugabe:
Mugabe has been arresting journalists, activists, and ordinary Zimbabweans but this is the first time he has arrested members of parliament. It could be that he is sending a message about how far criticism can go in the run up to the election late this month.
Arthur Mutambara, who leads an MDC splinter group, was arrested on Sunday for publishing an article critical of President Robert Mugabe.
Eric Matinenga, an opposition legislator and lawyer to the main MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was picked up on Saturday in the eastern district of Buhera and was being charged with inciting public violence, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.
In his April 20 article in the privately owned weekly The Standard, Mutambara criticized Mugabe for his handling of elections in March. He also accused the government of intimidation and questioned its right to stay in office.
"They've arrested Mutambara at his house this morning," said his lawyer Harrison Nkomo. "They are charging him with publishing statements prejudicial to the state and for contempt of court."
Results from the March 29 election showed the ruling ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority and gave Tsvangirai the lead over Mugabe in a presidential vote. But neither won a majority, forcing a run-off on June 27.
It is fully expected that Mugabe won't let happen during the run off what happened in the original round of voting in late April; a decision against Mugabe. With precious few foreign observers, Mugabe will almost certainly be able to steal the election - just as he has stolen others in his 28 year rule.