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Zimbabwe: police arrest nine church leaders

 Zimbabwean police on Friday arrested nine church leaders, including a blind pastor, for allegedly meeting in Kadoma, more than 150km west of Harare, without first seeking approval from the police. The group had gathered in a church for the launch of the Kadoma chapter of Christian Alliance - a coalition of churches, opposition political parties and civic groups that is pushing for sweeping political reforms in Zimbabwe. Christian Alliance spokesperson, Lucky Moyo, told Zim Online on Saturday that armed riot police arrested the church leaders before a shocked congregation of more than 400 people. Among those arrested were Jonah Gokova of the Ecumenical Support Services, Raymond Motsi of the Baptist Church in Bulawayo, blind pastor Ancelimo Magaya and journalist Pius Wakatama. Under Zimbabwe's tough Public Order and Security Act, it is an offence to gather in groups of more than three without first seeking approval from the police. Moyo said the police also confiscated copies of videos on non-violence and peace-building which featured the likes of United States-based civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr which were being shown at the seminar. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment on the matter last night. Zimbabwe's police have in the past raided offices of the Christian Alliance which President Robert Mugabe's government accuses of working with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party to oust it from power. The group is due to appear in the magistrates court some time today, although the charges against them were not yet clear last night. The wife of Pastor Magaya, Dephin said she was worried about her husband's condition in the filthy cells in Kadoma. Describing his as asthmatic, she said: " I cannot imagine what he is going through in those dirty cells." Moyo said: "The arrest of pastors has far-reaching implications because what it means is that people may no longer be guaranteed their religious rights and freedoms to worship. It is unfortunate the police decided to arrest our members when the subject for discussion was non-violence in the face of mounting socio, economic and political problems. Source: Zim Online