Zimbabwe’s MDC official arrested over protest released on bail

Amos Chibaya
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A Zimbabwean court freed a senior opposition official on bail on Monday, after charging him with failing to stop an anti-government protest that authorities had banned. Amos Chibaya, national organising secretary for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was an organiser of a street demonstration the party convened in Harare on 16 August to launch a national protest movement. The MDC accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of political repression and mismanaging an economy that is mired in its worst crisis in a decade.

Police banned the Harare demonstration as well as similar protests the MDC planned to hold in other cities. Some opposition supporters still turned up in Harare and were dispersed by police using batons, tear gas and water cannons.

Chibaya was released on bail of 400 Zimbabwe dollars (about $39) on condition that he not interfere with witnesses, his lawyer, Obey Shava, told Reuters. He had already surrendered his passport.

Chibaya is due back in court on 12 September and again on 4 October to face a separate charge of subversion over a January protest against a steep fuel price hike.

Fuel prices rose 10% on Monday, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority said. They have increased more than 600% since the start of 2019.

Mnangagwa replaced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a November 2017 coup, winning a national election in July 2018 after pledging political and economic reforms.