Although two of the activists were released on Friday evening after interrogations, the five including 2002 independent president candidate Paul Siwela are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
MLF officials said the five who include John Gazi, a prominent war veteran in the city who is the party’s secretary general, were detained at Bulawayo Central Police station.
Sabelo Ngwenya, the party’s legal affairs secretary who is based in Johannesburg, said Charles Gumbo, the MLF deputy secretary for security was the first to be arrested on Thursday for distributing fliers.
On Friday Nonsikelelo Ncube (deputy chairperson), Gazi, Ntombizodwa Moyo (deputy information and publicity officer) and Siwela were picked up.
A source said the detectives were mainly interested in getting access to the party’s documents and information on some of the party’s leaders based in South Africa.
“This is a deliberate act of intimidation designed to prevent MLF from campaigning for secession,” Ngwenya said.
“The regime knows that our people were coerced into being part of Zimbabwe and as such they see us as a threat.
“We are going to mobilise people to force the regime to release all our cadres in detention. We are also going to highlight the same to the international community.”
MLF was launched in Bulawayo in December last year and it has been openly campaigning for the secession of the Matabeleland provinces to create what it calls Mthwakazi Republic.
Last week, the group formally wrote to President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai demanding the creation of a separate state citing “continued marginalisation” of Matabeleland.