Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Zimbabwean opposition leader charged.
Zimbabwe's deputy opposition leader Gibson Sibanda was charged under public order and security legislation on Tuesday as his party accused the army and supporters of President Robert Mugabe of stepping up a crackdown.
Police held Sibanda for a second day in the southern city of Bulawayo in connection with his role in the organisation of a two-day strike last month that turned into one of the biggest protests in recent years against Mugabe's 23-year rule.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said a court had denied Sibanda bail after one of the police officers involved in the case failed to turn up.
"We view the investigation officer's failure to be present in court as a deliberate ploy by the state to ensure that the MDC vice president is kept in court for as long as is possible," the party said in a statement.
State television and radio said police had charged Sibanda with contravening the Public Order and Security Act.
The former trade unionist was arrested on Monday as the MDC won two key parliamentary by-elections in Harare and thwarted Mugabe's hopes of eroding its urban power base. The MDC holds all of the capital's 19 parliamentary seats.