Harare mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, says Zanu PF lied that they have booked Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare for the whole year.
Masunda also dismissed assertions by the police claiming the former ruling party had made block bookings for the whole year for any of council’s properties in and around Harare.
“I would like to state that any allegations of block bookings of the city council’s facilities, more particularly Glamis Arena and/or Zimbabwe Grounds or any empty space under the control of the city are not only incorrect but false. The city of Harare, as a matter of policy, does not permit block bookings of any of its facilities,” Masunda said.
The mayor was responding to reports by the police claiming Zanu PF had booked Zimbabwe Grounds and Glamis Arena each time the MDC-T sought permission to hold rallies there.
Police stopped an MDC-T rally initially scheduled at the Zimbabwe Grounds on March 13 saying Zanu PF had booked the venue prompting the party to postpone its rally to March 19.
But on March 14, Officer Commanding Harare Central District, Chief Superintendent Garikai Gwangwava, wrote to MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, saying:
“My office regrets to advise you that your intended place of rally’s proximity and timings coincide with that of Zanu PF which is also holding a rally on the same date at the open space between the Rainbow Towers and Interpol Offices, which is less than 500 metres from your intended venue.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo also confirmed his party had booked the venue although NewsDay later established the rally never took place.
In fact, NewsDay witnessed Zanu PF youths attacking suspected MDC-T supporters who had gone to the venue oblivious of the fact that in had been prohibited.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told this newspaper last night that he was yet to check on the matter.
However, in a sworn affidavit filed at the High Court last Saturday, Masunda said he had personally enquired into the status of Glamis Arena and Zimbabwe Grounds and found out no bookings had been made at the venues.
Part of the affidavit reads: “For the avoidance of doubt, I reiterate that according to the City of Harare records there has been no confirmed use of booking of Glamis Arena and Zimbabwe Grounds by Zanu PF or any related organisation and these facilities as of 18 March 2011 remain available for use by any interested party.”
The MDC-T attached Masunda’s affidavit in its urgent High Court application to continue with its planned peace rally last Saturday.
However, the application was dismissed with costs by Judge President Justice George Chiweshe and no reasons were given.
Masunda confirmed the open space between Rainbow Towers and Interpol offices is under the control of Harare’s city valuers and estates division of the city treasurer’s department.
“I have been assured personally by Misheck Mubvumbi (the city treasurer) and Eben Francisco (assistant city valuer and estates manager), the functionaries responsible for this facility that it had not been booked, secured and/or paid for by any political party for exclusive use on March 19, 2011,” he said.
In a related development, Masunda yesterday said Zanu PF was yet to pay $1 000 for using the Glamis Arena for its anti-sanctions petition launch officiated by President Robert Mugabe.
“As far as the city treasurer’s records are concerned, payment of the prescribed fee is yet to be made by the organisers of the anti-sanctions rally which took place in Harare on March 2 2011,” he said.
Harare Provincial spokesperson, Amos Midzi was not immediately available for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Meanwhile, MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday said his party will this Sunday go ahead with its planned peace rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield.