Heavily armed police on Thursday stormed deputy Foreign Affairs minister Robert Rabson Makhula’s homestead and dispersed MDC supporters who had gathered to celebrate his appointment.
Seven baton-wielding riot police said the gathering was “illegal” but Makhula, who doubles as senator for the area, insisted it was a celebration party which did not warrant police clearance.
MDC president Welshman Ncube and his leadership were instructed to leave the homestead together with some members of Makhula’s family.
But after protracted talks police finally left the premises.
“It was not a political gathering, but a celebration,” Makhula said.
“We have permission and have followed all requirements as per the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) to notify police of our meeting.”
Makhula assumed the deputy ministerial position last year after the then incumbent Moses Mzila-Ndlovu was transferred to the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.
MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said police also blocked the party’s campaign rally at Gonye business centre although the party had a valid clearance letter.
“Over and above the fact that the police turned up in two truckloads armed and ready to beat up people at Makhula’s home, they had earlier blocked a rally that we were supposed to have in the constituency,” Dube said.
“We are shocked by a police force that fails to respect the freedom of its people.
“We have come to Matabeleland North and faced police intransigency.
“We appeal to the police and powers that control the police to realise Zimbabwe needs to move forward.”
Mzila-Ndlovu said police fired teargas to disperse villagers who had gathered for their first rally.
The party’s second rally which was scheduled for today at Subhamu business centre was also stopped.
“Our party supporters who had gathered at the venue of the first rally at Gonye business centre were beaten up, teargassed and chased away by more than 10 armed police officers in riot gear, led by Nkayi Police Station officer-in-charge, Inspector Mapurazi.
“When we approached the police together with our party president to enquire why they stopped our meeting, they said they had instructions from above to ban all MDC rallies in Nkayi,”said Mzila-Ndlovu.
In October, police in Matabeleland North Province mysteriously cancelled three campaign rallies organised by Premier Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party.