POLICE have banned the Movement for Democratic Change from holding rallies in the country fearing they might mobilise people into anti-government protest
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, on Tuesday said his party’s application to hold rallies last weekend was turned down on grounds that they would use them to mobilise for demonstrations.
“In reality we are on a mass mobilisation campaign for peaceful democratic resistance,” Chamisa said of the banned rallies that had been scheduled for Kwekwe, Chitungwiza, and Chivhu among other areas.
“The party will not be stopped by the cancellations of its rallies from pursuing its mass mobilisation programme,” he said.
Police in Chinhoyi banned the opposition rally saying toilets at the venue were out of order.
But Chamisa said this was a lame excuse because the rally was scheduled to last an hour or so, meaning toilets would not have been a big issue.
“Zanu PF holds rallies nationwide without being concerned about sanitation facilities but police only become concerned about hygiene when it comes to the MDC,” Chamisa said.
Chinhoyi Stadium is owned by the council and has in the past regularly hosted a variety of public events like soccer matches as well as political rallies.
“These unjust laws like the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) at times invite serious resistance.”
In a broadcast marking the country’s 26 years of Independence on April 18, President Robert Mugabe warned opponents planning to oust his government through violent protest that they were playing with fire.
Posa requires people to seek police clearance before meeting to discuss politics or to hold public demonstrations. The law empowers the police to deny permission for such meetings only for security reasons.
Eldred Masunungure, a political commentator, condemned the regulatory framework that governs political activities.
“Posa is a draconian piece of legislation which is very selective, favourable to the ruling party,” Masunungure said.
“The law has to be repealed not amended because it’s suffocating other parties.”
Dr John Makumbe, another political analyst, said: “There have always been uneven political grounds in Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, the ruling party does not seek police clearance when they hold their functions but when it comes to other parties clearance has to be sort well in advance.”