POLICE yesterday made an embarrassing boob when they pounced on a Harare hotel in an attempt to disrupt a media briefing by MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, which was attended by hordes of local and foreign journalists as well as observers.

BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

The raid came hours after Chamisa rejected the presidential poll results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) that handed President Emmerson Mnangagwa an outright victory.

The media briefing at Bronte Hotel proceeded after almost an hour of heckling between police and the journalists who wanted to know why they were being kicked out from the event.

It took acting Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo’s intervention for Chamisa to hold his briefing, but again, not without drama, with the MDC Alliance officials demanding to know on whose instructions he was operating.

“Can you leave this place,” Khaya-Moyo ordered the police, who took time to follow the instruction.

Pestered by the journalists and MDC Alliance officials on why he came, Khaya Moyo said: “I have come to deliver a message.”

He was at pains to disclose the source of his message as journalists and alliance officials kept on mobbing him.
“You can go ahead with the Press conference if you wish to, if you no longer want to, you can go,” Khaya Moyo told Chamisa’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who was among the restive journalists demanding answers from the Information minister and the police.

The four police trucks, including a water cannon eventually left the hotel where police Assistant Commissioner Simon Mwatsikesimbe leading the troops had a torrid time from journalists, who demanded answers on why police was attempting to block the Press conference.

The police boss remained stone quite as a forest of microphones flew in his face, with the journalists trailing him as he tried to make his way off the chaotic scene.

Mnangagwa later took to Twitter, claiming the dispersing of journalists was regrettable and “has no place in our society” and the “freedom of speech was indispensable’ in the “new Zimbabwe”.

The police also later apologised for their conduct, claiming it was only an isolated incident that should not be misconstrued to mean that the police were heavy-handed. In a statement, the police said given the Wednesday chaos, they have a mandate to ensure law and order existed in the country.

But Chamisa in his address attacked Mnangagwa over the chaotic scenes: “This is unacceptable; this is unnecessary. This cannot be the behaviour of people who have won; it can only be the behaviour of those who have lost.

“It is for this reason that we want to underscore that as the MDC Alliance partner, that for the past three days we have been subjected to all forms of harassment, persecution, intimidation and in fact, just yesterday, our offices were invaded, we don’t know for what reason, but because they wanted to take some information,” he said.

Chamisa said his party was not a military organisation, and it did not believe in violence and the use of weapons of war against anybody.

He said he had been informed that one of Wednesday’s shooting victim he visited at Parirenyatwa Hospital had died and alleged there were reports of the military beating up residents in Chitungwiza on Thursday night.

Chamisa said he would take up the matter of abuse of power by the military to the international fora.