Tsvangirai's MDC refute Zimbabwe police claims

HARARE – The Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed media claims made by the Police Commissioner – General Augustine Chihuri that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has sanctioned 94 percent of the meetings and rallies.\r\n

The statement is a clear negation of facts. The police chief has in the past openly shown that he is a partisan public officer when he declared that he was a supporter of Zanu PF.

The MDC stands by its position that the police have been denying the party to hold its meetings and rallies across the country in clear defiance of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

According to Posa, the police needs only to be notified that a political party is holding a meeting and they have no right to deny that.

Only two weeks ago, the MDC was at the courts appealing against a police decision in Harare to deny the party from holding a People’s Peace rally at Zimbabwe Grounds and Glamis Arena. The peace rally has been cancelled three times consecutively.

It was claimed that Zanu PF had booked the two venues. The Harare City Council even wrote an affidavit dismissing these claims.

Senior police officers have been quoted on record declaring that the banning of MDC rallies was because the country was on some false high alert.

However, what the MDC finds amazing is that another political party – the unpopular Zanu PF has been granted and escorted by the police to hold their meetings. Most of the Zanu PF meetings have turned violent as the rowdy Zanu PF youths looted and assaulted innocent people but no arrests were made.

The MDC has evidence that the party’s internal congress meetings have been disrupted across the country especially in Bulawayo, Marondera, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Mudzi, Victoria Falls, Hwange and Mutare.

MDC members have been arrested, some beaten for attending internal party meetings.

As a Party of Excellence, the MDC feels that it has not been treated fairly by the ZRP when it comes to holding its peaceful meetings especially at a time when the party is preparing for its crucial 3rd Main National Congress to be held in Bulawayo.

For the record, below are just some of the various MDC meetings that have been disrupted by the police in recent weeks;

Bulawayo Province notified the police of eight meetings. However, seven of them failed to take place because the police dispersed MDC members who had gathered for the meetings.

In Chitungwiza province, of the eight meetings scheduled this year, five were disrupted by the police and three were refused clearance.

In Mashonaland East province, two of the scheduled meetings were refused clearance and did not take place.

By the time Midlands North province applied for their one intended rally in Kadoma, the police had instituted a ban on MDC programmes nationwide.

On 5 February 2011 – Collin Ndlovu and Alward Mhlanga are arrested in Njube Bulawayo at a ward meeting and are charged US$20 each for holding an illegal meeting.

On 8 February 2011 – Police in Mufakose, Highfield and Budiriro bar MDC members from holding ward Congress meetings.

On 12 February 2011 – At least 51 MDC Harare province Youth Assembly members who are arrested by the police in Mabvuku for holding an illegal meeting they are released on 14 February after heavy interrogation and harassment.

On 6 March 2011 – Lucia Matibenga, an MDC executive member who had travelled to Bulawayo to oversee the province’s restructuring exercise was told by the police in riot gear to order party members gathered at the provincial office to disperse. Two of police officers, Superintendent Fumai and another Superintendent Moyo said they had been sent by a Chief Superintendent Masina to tell them to disperse because the country was on high alert.

On 26 March 2011 – An MDC ward meeting is disrupted at Beit Hall in Bulawayo.

On 12 March 2011 – All ward Congress meetings are disrupted by the police in Mberengwa East.

On 13 March 2011- 10 MDC youth activists from Chitungwiza are arrested outside Harvest House, the party’s headquarters as they leave the offices after attending a Zengeza East Youth Assembly congress meeting.

Out of the 30 meetings that the MDC notified to the police, only one rally took place in 20 February Mkoba. The MDC therefore finds that Chihuri’s claim that 94 percent of MDC meetings were approved is not only a gross misrepresentation but a miss on facts by a significant margin.