POLICE in Bulawayo on Saturday blocked a local pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu, from holding belated commemorations of World Genocide Day, on the grounds that the event could cause “disharmony and divisions” within society.
Report by Dumisani Sibanda Bureau Chief
The day is commemorated worldwide on January 25 every year.
Ibhetshu Likazulu wanted to hold the event at the Presbyterian Church in the city.
Speakers who had been lined up for the commemorations included Minister of State in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Habbakuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo and former Bulawayo councillor Alderman Michael Batandi Mpofu.
“We notified the police of our intention to hold the belated commemoration of World Genocide Day on January 21, 2013, and they only gave us their response a few hours before the event,” said Ibhethsu Likazulu secretary Mbuso Fuzwayo.
“As you can see in their letter of response dated January 25, 2013, but which they only gave us on Saturday, they are saying the ‘agenda of the meeting is likely to cause disharmony and divisions in society. But they do not explain how the meeting will foment those divisions.”
In the letter, officer commanding Bulawayo Central District Chief Superintendent L S Maninge added that police would “not sanction the meeting” because of other commitments on that day.
However, Fuzwayo said they would not give up organising the event they have been commemorating since 2006.
“We will not give up. We will talk to the police and if dialogue fails, we might have to resort to legal action.
“After we made the notification of the meeting, the police wanted to know if we were a registered organisation and we showed them the relevant documents and they wanted to see our programme for the day and we supplied those details. What the police are doing is tantamount to muzzling freedom of expression,” said Fuzwayo.