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Zimbabwe: Opponents accused of demolishing ruling party offices

Zimbabwe: Opponents accused of demolishing ruling party offices
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa salutes provincial leaders during the ZANU PF annual people's conference in Goromonzi, December 13, 2019.   -  
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Thirty-nine opponents were charged on Monday in Zimbabwe for the alleged "demolition" of the offices of the party that has been in power since 1980, as tension mounts in the country less than three months before the elections.

According to prosecutors, this group of opponents attacked the Zanu-PF party office last week in Nyatsime, south of the capital.

The group "destroyed several houses and attacked members of the Nyatsime community, seriously injuring several people and destroying their property", the prosecutors charged.

"Our clients were not even there," Anesu Chirisa, a lawyer with the human rights NGO Forum, which is defending the 39 opponents arrested over the weekend, told AFP.

They are all members of the leading opposition movement, the Citizens' Coalition for Change (CCC).

Earlier this month, five opponents were remanded in custody on charges of assaulting ruling party supporters and "tearing up a book" belonging to them.

A so-called "patriotic" law, criminalizing any "attack on sovereignty and the national interest", was adopted at the beginning of the month.

According to the opposition and NGOs, the law threatens freedom of expression, assembly, association and civil rights.

Outgoing president Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, is accused of muzzling any dissenting voices.

He succeeded Robert Mugabe in 2017 and was elected president the following year (50.8%) in a vote marked by violence.

He will be pitted against CCC leader Nelson, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor.

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