Top Zimbabwe opposition official arrested as another is denied bail

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alliance on Friday tweeted that its vice chairman, Job Sikhala, had been arrested but it gave no details.

MDC Alliance vice chairman Job Sikhala. Picture: @mdczimbabwe/Twitter.

HARARE - Zimbabwean police on Friday arrested an outspoken opposition leader who went into hiding in late July after he appeared on a police wanted list, his party said.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance tweeted that its vice chairman, Job Sikhala, had been arrested but it gave no details.

The state-run daily _Herald _cited the police confirming that Sikhala, who is also a lawyer, had been arrested in the western Harare suburb of Tynwald.

Sikhala is one of more than a dozen opposition figures who went into hiding after police issued an alert seeking information leading to their arrest ahead of anti-government protests planned for 31 July.

His arrest came as another opposition politician and government critic, Jacob Ngarivhume, was denied bail for the third time since being detained for backing the protests.

The demonstrations were de-facto banned because of Zimbabwe's anti-coronavirus measures.

Ngarivhume made a last-ditch attempt to secure his release, arguing that the demonstrations had remained peaceful.

But a magistrate rejected this and said Ngarivhume remained a danger to society as he could organise protests if let out on bail.

Ngarivhume, the leader of Transform Zimbabwe, has been in jail since 20 July on charges of inciting public violence.

He was arrested alongside prominent investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, who also remains in prison on public violence charges.

A ruling on Chin'ono's latest bail application is expected on Monday.

Zimbabwe's influential Catholic bishops issued a rare and unusually strong pastoral letter earlier this month, deploring an "unprecedented" government crackdown on dissent against a backdrop of economic ruin and allegations of rampant rights abuses.

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