Harare – Police in Harare on Friday crashed a demonstration by a handful of activists led by the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) and the Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (RoHR Zimbabwe) who were protesting against the country’s Second Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s continued stay at a top class Harare hotel at the taxpayers’ expense.
The protesters, who included women with children strapped to their backs, questioned the logic behind Mphoko’s stay in the Presidential Suite at the Rainbow Towers Hotel at a time most Zimbabweans were struggling to get a meal a day and while government was struggling to pay its workers.
The Vice President, the former ambassador Zimbabwe to South Africa, has been staying at the hotel for almost 15 months and has gobbled an estimated US$300 000.
He reportedly spurned three houses offered by government, describing one of the houses, a US$3 million mansion in the leafy Ballantyne Park as too small for a person of his stature.
The protesters gathered at the reception area of the hotel where they demanded that Mphoko immediately pack his bags and go to his official house which he was refusing to occupy.
Navuz chairman Stan Zvorwadza said they were protected by Section 59 of the country’s Constitution and the anti-riot police had no right to disrupt their protest.
“I am warning the Zimbabwe Republic Police not to interfere with our civic rights. If they interfere we will declare this hotel shut from now until Phelekhezela Mphoko leaves this hotel…We are not compromising for less, we are not even budging and I urge riot police to behave like human beings,” he said.
He threatened that the group would destroy the hotel if the anti-riot police attacked them.
The demonstration was, however, short-lived as baton wielding anti-riot police invaded the area targeting only Zvorwadza and activist Liberty William who they bundled into their truck.
The two were taken to Harare Central police station where they were still detained on Friday afternoon.
Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi, said he was not aware of the incident and referred all questions to national spokesperson Charity Charamba who cut off African News Agency on introduction.
The lawyer representing the two detainees, Tafara Goo, confirmed that his clients were still detained at Harare Central Police station and were yet to be charged.
“The police have not preferred any charges against my clients and I will soon be contacting the investigating officer to find out if they will prefer any charges at all,” he said.
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