Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has disclosed that he intervened to have a leading opposition figure Tendai Biti bailed. According to Mnangagwa, the move was to foster unity, peace and dialogue in the country.
In a tweet thread hours after Biti was granted bail on charges of inciting violence and breaching electoral laws, the president spoke about his intervention but said all charges were going to be followed through.
Biti was refused asylum in neighbouring Zambia and was subsequently deported despite a court order against the move.
The United Nations and a number of western governments have commented on the issue stressing that due process is adhered to.
STATEMENT ON RELEASE OF TENDAI BITI
Tendai Biti was released earlier today following my intervention. At such a crucial time in the history of the new Zimbabwe, nothing is more important than unity, peace and dialogue.
Equally important, however, is an adherence to the rule of law. I repeat – no one is above the law. Thus due to the serious nature of the allegations of incitement, due process will continue.
I call on all parties to immediately cease from all forms of incitement to violence, and to conduct all activities solely within the framework of the law. All Zimbabweans must join us now in striving for unity, peace and reconciliation. Peace is paramount.
POLICE STATEMENT ON CHARGES AGAINST BITI
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police would like to confirm that, Tendai Biti is now in police custody.
“He is being charged for contravening Section 36 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (Chapter 9:23), “Public Violence” and also contravening Section 66 (A)(1) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13), “Unofficial or false declaration of results”.
“We want to assure the nation that he is very safe and like any other person facing criminal charges, the police are conducting the necessary legal procedures so that Biti appears in court.
“He had skipped the country knowing very well that he was wanted by the police, although he was misleading members of the public through the media.”
The lawyer and former finance minister had reportedly claimed that the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC Allaince’) candidate Nelson Chamisa had won the July 30 elections.
Authorities are blaming him for inciting protesters who clashed with security forces leading to the death of six people in the capital Harare. Biti won his parliamentary seat for Harare East in the polls.