Arrested Party Officials Released
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ Police detained at least 10 members of the Bulawayo city council for several hours in a continuing crackdown on opposition leader Joshua Nkomo’s party, Mayor Enos Mdlongwa confirmed Sunday.
Mdlongwa, mayor of the city that is a stronghold of Nkomo supporters in the southern Matabeleland province, said police in plainclothes and uniforms raided his home at 2 a.m. Friday, confiscated documents and held him at the central police station for nearly eight hours before setting him free.
In a telephone interview from his Bulawayo home, the mayor said: ″Nearly the whole council was picked up.″
He said he saw at the police station 11 of the 12 black councillors who belong to Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union. They all were released after several hours, the mayor said.
″The police said they were only releasing us while they studied the documents from the party and the council, which they seized in raids on councillors’ homes,″ he said. He said he would make a more detailed public statement Monday.
An unknown number of Nkomo party officials, including three national legislators, have been detained in a month-long crackdown.
Nkomo said Sunday he could not verify or deny rumors that a fourth legislator, Edward Ndlovu, had been arrested.
Ndlovu planned to fly to Canada last week with his Canadian-born wife and their children to visit his seriously ill mother-in-law. ″We also have heard rumors that he was arrested before he boarded the flight, at Harare airport. But we simply don’t know,″ Nkomo said.
Government officials have not identified those arrested or disclosed the number of arrests made. On Friday, a government spokesman said only that ″certain persons are assisting police with investigations.″
Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has said the clampdown is a routine police investigation into Nkomo and his party, which he accuses of giving orders to hundreds of armed rebels.
Nkomo has charged that the harassment is an effort to frame his party so it can be banned, paving the way for Mugabe to create a one-party state.
Nkomo and Mugabe led rival guerrilla armies in a seven-year bush war that in April, 1980 ended the white-minority government that had ruled the former British colony under the name Rhodesia.
Mugabe won a majority in elections that followed Britain’s formal granting of independence to the country. He invited Nkomo to join in a coalition government. The alliance lasted until March 1982, when Mugabe fired Nkomo from his Cabinet on charges of plotting a coup.
Since then, the two have become bitter enemies.
Hundreds of soldiers who fought for Nkomo in the war deserted their army barracks when he was fired, and went back to the bush with their guns. Since then, Mugabe has accused them of killing, torturing and maiming scores of Mugabe party officials and supporters.
Nkomo has accused the Mugabe-controlled army of doing the same things to his supporters.
At the last elections, in July, Mugabe won the majority of black seats in the National Assembly.
Mugabe declared that his victory was a mandate for him to create a one- party state before 1990, even if that meant crushing political opponents.