POLITICAL tension is running high in Manicaland amid claims by the Movement for Democratic Change that police are acting with Zanu PF officials to bar the opposition fr
om holding campaign rallies.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, MDC Mani-caland provincial information secretary, Pishai Muchauraya, said police were preventing his party from holding rallies.
“We are facing two major problems especially in Chimanimani,” Muchauraya said. “We have the police as an institution barring us from holding political rallies on the one hand, while Zanu PF through violence on the other hand is preventing our supporters from having political gatherings.”
Muchauraya said the MDC had made six applications to the police in Chipinge to hold rallies but was turned down.
“We requested clearance from Chipinge police to hold rallies, some of which were to be addressed by Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett, six times, but we were turned down by the police,” Muchauraya said.
He said the police said there was a possibility of Bennett being attacked by incensed Zanu PF supporters after the incident in parliament when the MDC MP floored two Zanu PF ministers.
“They said it was not possible for the MDC to have rallies addressed by Bennett because they did not have enough manpower to protect him or anyone else in the event of a Zanu PF attack,” Muchauraya said.
Bennett was involved in a brawl in parliament last month in which he floored Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Anti-graft minister Didymus Mutasa.
Zanu PF supporters, in retaliation, launched an anti-white campaign that saw the abduction and assault last month of Birgit Kidd, a Finnish citizen who lives in Chimanimani.
The police officer commanding Chipinge and Chimanimani, Chief Sup-erintendent Musarashana Mabunda, could not be reached for comment.
Muchauraya accused the police of acting as an extension of the ruling party.
“It seems the police, instead of being apolitical, are now a wing of Zanu PF as manifested by their refusal to allow us to hold rallies in Chimanimani and other areas in the province,” he said.
Muchauraya also accused Zanu PF of using violence to intimidate voters in Chimanimani, one of the MDC’s rural strongholds.
Aspiring Zanu PF candidate for next year’s parliamentary election, Munacho Mutezo, was named in the High Court as having led Zanu PF supporters in the invasion of MDC district offices in Chimanimani last month.
The High Court last week ordered Police Com-missioner Augustine Chi-huri to evict Zanu PF militia who invaded Kidd’s property at Chimanimani business centre.