Some internet forums have already started to say that the Zimbabwe moment may have finally arrived. It remains to be seen. But could it be a trap by the regime to find an opportunity to arrest the MDC leadership and lock them away then bulldoze a snap election with people being frog-marched to polling booths under military guard?
What is suspicious is the communication of the ban by police too close to the date of the event probably as a deliberate way to forestall an Egypt or Tunisia at Mugabe’s doorstep.
"Please note that the roads that lead to your intended venue are the same as that lead to the Zanu’pf rally venue and there is likelihood of clashes between supporters which would then lead to violence" said Chief Superintendent G Gandana of ZRP in a letter to MDC-T organisers of Saturday’s President’s Star rally.
Surely, ZRP must have known very well that it would be too late for the MDC-T to mobilize the whole country for solidarity rallies in protest against the ban or attempt to transform the whole thing into a Jasmine Revolution! This leaves the MDC-T vulnerable to provocation.
There are very few options. One is getting angry and losing it and in the process risking the full force of ZRP. Another option would be calling off the rally and risk upsetting supporters and losing face.
While yet another option would be finding an alternative safer venue away from Glamis Stadium that is said to be 500 metres from a ‘planned’ Zanu-pf rally on the same day.
Such an option places MDC-T in awkward or Catch 22 situation whereby they will need prior police permission as provided for under the notorious POSA law which was crafted by Jonathan Moyo but there would be little or no time.
The stakes are very high for a possible confrontation between Mugabe’s supporters backed by the Joint Operations Command i.e. police, the army, CIO, militia, war veterans and some Zanu-pf MPs and Senators on one side and the MDC-T supporters and the whole country on the other side!!
And the MDC’s response was swift and non-compromising:
"With or without police clearance our position is that we are going to go on as planned and our secretary general, Tendai Biti had even said so. Zanu-pf can have it’s own rally and this can be possible and our rally is a peace campaign," said MDC Organising Secretary, Elias Mudzuri.
The situation would be quite different if all the other political parties including MKD, Zapu, the other three MDC’s and so on were to join in the star rally in solidarity. Will the other three MDC’s join in the demonstrations or they will chicken out.
In the light of Jonathan Moyo’s recent threats against the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangiari and Secretary General Tendai Biti, over his comments and the latter’s calls for a diamonds audit, there is a big possibility that the party’s top leadership could have been targeted for a systematic removal from public life into incarceration.
The world will be watching developments in the Southern African country with trepidation this weekend.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri is a London based political analyst and regular columnist for The Zimbabwe Mail, he can be contatcted at firstname.lastname@example.org