Chamisa, police clash looms

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa says he will go ahead with his public address today but changed the venue to the party headquarters after police blocked the planned Africa Unity Square meeting.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA / MOSES MATENGA

A potentially explosive stage has been set for the central business district after police banned the gathering at the Africa Unity Square fearing the programme could be hijacked and turn violent.

Chamisa wants to present his Hope of the Nation Address, a play on the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month, with thousands of opposition supporters and diplomats expected to attend together.

This has raised fears of a potential clash between Chamisa, his supporters and the police, who have maintained a heavy presence in Harare ahead of the address.

Chamisa told NewsDay that his address was about bringing hope to a distressed nation and would see him deliver a special message to the people of Zimbabwe.

“We are talking about what needs to be done. We have invited diplomats for the event and police has been advised. They were given notice,” he said.

Last night, MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele said the address would go ahead in the CBD and urged people to turn in their thousands.

“The president would like to confirm that we will be definitely having our long-awaited Hope of the Nation Address. All concerned citizens of Zimbabwe are duly invited to attend,” he said.

The MDC has accused the police of working as an extension of Zanu PF by blocking party gatherings in and out of Harare.

If it goes ahead, Chamisa’s address comes at a time there is increasing pressure for dialogue between the him and Mnangagwa.

Chamisa has called for mediation from the regional bloc, the African Union and Sadc as a way to end the current crisis Zimbabwe was faced with.

On his part, Mnangagwa has insisted on local mediation from the church and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

Last year, Mnangagwa set up the Political Actors Dialogue platform, where he called all opposition political parties to a discussion.

Chamisa has snubbed the platform, saying dialogue must be premised on conditions he has set.