September 5, 2007 / 9:08 PM / 13 years ago

Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai summoned over price freeze

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai gestures while addressing the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Melbourne August 27, 2007. Zimbabwe's police have summoned Tsvangirai for questioning on Thursday on his tour of shops to assess the impact of President Robert Mugabe's controversial price freeze, his lawyer said on Wednesday. REUTERS/David Callow

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s police have summoned the main opposition leader for questioning on Thursday on his tour of shops to assess the impact of President Robert Mugabe’s controversial price freeze, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, visited shops in Harare on August 1 in the company of journalists to find out how businesses were coping with the measure, which he said was unsustainable and had left inflation-battered consumers worse off.

Zimbabweans have struggled to buy basic goods since Mugabe’s government ordered businesses to slash their prices to mid-June levels in a bid to rein in the world’s highest rate of inflation, officially running above 7,000 percent.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama said police had indicated that the opposition leader’s conduct during the tour had “compromised security arrangements” at the shops he visited.

“He has been called to appear before the police for questioning on Thursday and he may possibly be asked to sign a warned and cautioned statement,” he told Reuters.

“The police are saying that Tsvangirai had a team of his reporters who were taking pictures without the consent of the shop managers and that constitutes disorderly conduct,” said Muchadehama.

Tsvangirai has been arrested several times by Mugabe’s government, including at an aborted prayer vigil in March, when he said he and other opposition figures were assaulted and seriously wounded in police custody.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a severe economic crisis that is also marked by shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel, unemployment above 80 percent and rising poverty which has left many people unable to feed their families.

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