Police have banned the planned demonstration by the MDC which was set for this Friday, defying President Emmerson Mnangagwa who gave the nod for the opposition to proceed with its protest.
The MDC had called for the demonstration to register its growing disgruntlement over the fast deteriorating economic situation in the country as well as pressure Mnangagwa to convene "genuine" dialogue meant to remedy the situation.
But in shock turn of events Thursday night, police issued a prohibition order against the holding of the protest, setting the stage for what could be potentially explosive clashes between the law enforcement agents and agitated opposition activists.
"Please be advised that, after due consideration and meetings held with the convener and his legal advisors, the regulatory authority has issued a prohibition notice against the holding of the demonstrations on 16 August 2019 in Harare Central Business District, in terms of Section 26 (9) of the Public Order and Security Act, Chapter 11:17," national police spokesperson Asstistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said in the statement.
"Anyone who therefore participates in the demonstrations will do so in contravention of Section 26 (11) of the Public Order and Security Act and the law will take its course."
Section 26 (9) reads: "After considering representations made in the course of a meeting held in terms of subsection (3), if any, the regulating authority may, if he or she on reasonable grounds is convinced that no amendment or condition contemplated in subsection (5) or (6) would prevent the occurrence of any of the circumstances contemplated in subsection (3), issue a prohibition notice, giving the reasons and grounds therefore to the convener."
Earlier on Thursday, President Mnangagwa was linked to a meeting he reportedly held with some top security commanders in Harare upon which he allowed the MDC to proceed with its protest.