13 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Police Ban MDC-T Weekend Rallies in Mugabe's Home Province

Police in Robert Mugabe's stronghold of Mashonaland West banned several weekend rallies planned by the MDC-T, claiming the party needed to get clearance from the local chiefs and headman.

The MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti and other senior party officials were due to address rallies in the districts of Kazangarare, Kenzamba and Makonde, which are located in the traditionally ZANU PF stronghold.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora described the development as "totally outrageous and unacceptable" and said the party would fight the decision. And the organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa insisted the rallies would go ahead in the future.

The law in Zimbabwe requires that police simply be notified of any public events that are scheduled, in order to provide security. But the police have abused this law on a partisan basis, allowing ZANU PF to hold rallies and public meetings without seeking clearance.

According to NewsDay newspaper, the MDC-T Mashonaland West organising secretary, Wilson Makanyaire, said the police refused to sanction the rallies without clearance from chiefs, headman and rural district councils, who are known to be ZANU PF sympathisers.

Regarding the law, Makanyaire said: "There is no provision under the Public Order and Security Act where it is stipulated that we need clearance from all these quarters. In essence, police have banned our rallies." he said.

Ironically the banned rallies had been dubbed "Real Change Peace Rallies" by the MDC-T. But nothing has changed since the formation of the unity government.

In May a ZANU PF mob attacked MDC-T activists who were gathering for a rally in Mudzi North. Sekuru Cephas Magura was killed during the chaos that followed and several others were critically injured. Local ZANU PF officials, including MP Newton Kachepa and Acquilinah Katsande, were later implicated in the violence.

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