Zimbabwe: Police Use Tear Smoke to Disperse MDC-A Rally

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa (file photo).
2 December 2019

Police yesterday said they used tear smoke to disperse an unsanctioned MDC-Alliance meeting at Dombotombo Clinic in Marondera after part of the crowd, who had arrived in kombis, refused to disperse and continued to block patients from using the clinic

They said they first engaged the party supporters and their leadership to leave the venue because there had been no prior notification as required, but without success and they were forced to use tear smoke.

Police dismissed as false reports that they had fired at the MDC-Alliance supporters, saying no police officer at the venue possessed live ammunition or rubber bullets.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: "The Zimbabwe Republic Police dismisses allegations that live rounds of rubber bullets were used or fired when police officers in Marondera dispersed MDC supporters and activists this afternoon who had illegally gathered at Dombotombo Clinic and some leaders attempted to address the gathering without following the laid down notification procedures in terms of the law.

"Police only used tear smoke to disperse the gathering and politicians, with some who had been transported in kombis openly refusing to comply with lawful orders which had been given by the police."

After the incident, MDC-Alliance supporters took to social media claiming that police had used live ammunition to disperse the gathering.

They posted a video clip which seemed to suggest that there were gunshots. The authenticity of the video could not be established.

However, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said: "It's the usual opposition histrionics and dramatics. (MDC-Alliance leader Nelson) Chamisa tried to have a rally in Dombotombo Clinic, disrupting the delivery of care to the sick people there," he said.

"Police were called in. At this point there were kombis full of rowdy people who were very aggressive. They started surging towards the police in an aggressive way. Police deployed tear smoke to disperse the people. There was no use of firearms and none of the police details was armed with live ammunition," he said

Mr Mangwana added: "What we are dealing with here is attention-seeking theatrics we have come to expect from an opposition which is devoid of ideas and political programmes."

MDC-Alliance MP for Marondera Central Caston Matewu claimed that live bullets were used against supporters and party leader Mr Chamisa while he was conducting a tree-planting ceremony.

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