By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO police yesterday issued a prohibition order banning MDC’s planned protests set for the city today and threatened a one-year jail term for those that defy the ban.
The MDC had lined up a series of protests against the government, starting with Harare last Friday which was, however, thwarted by the police, resulting in running battles between the law enforcement agents and protesters.
In Bulawayo, officer commanding Bulawayo central district Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Phiri issued a prohibition order against the intended protests for the
city citing fears of violence and destruction to property.
“A prohibition order is hereby issued in terms of section 26 (9) of the POSA for the holding of the intended public demonstration,” Phiri wrote.
Phiri added: “For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that in terms of Section 26 (11) of POSA (Chapter 11:17) any person who knowingly opposes or fails to
comply with a prohibition notice and any directions or conditions under which a public demonstration is not authorised shall be guilty of an offence and liable
to a fine not exceeding level 14 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 1 year and both, such fine and imprisonment.”
But MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza vowed to go ahead with the protests.
In justifying the protest ban, Phiri said Bulawayo has witnessed flashes of violence after the MDC announced Monday as the date of the protests, citing the
August 10 bombing of the war veterans’ officers in Entumbane high-density suburb as one of the reasons.
Phiri also said some activists on Friday barricaded roads leading to the central business district with boulders and burning tyres.
The top cop further noted that businesses also raised concerns over looting and burning of their businesses during an all-stakeholders meeting convened by the police on Friday.
On Saturday, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), the Bulawayo United Residents Association and
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe filed a joint urgent chamber High Court application seeking an order directing authorities to cause the MDC protests to
be called off.
GMAZ deputy national chairperson Masimba Dzomba in his supporting affidavit in the High Court application against the MDC protests said the demonstrations were
likely to see goods belonging to the organisations’ members looted by citizens who cannot afford to purchase them.
“…1st respondent (MDC) is citing, inter alia, the increase in prices of basic commodities including the goods produced by members of 4th applicant (GMAZ…we
are, therefore, under reasonable apprehension that the mobilised crowds, as occurred before, will loot our member’s products,” Dzomba said.
The MDC was cited as the first respondent, while the officer commanding Bulawayo district and Godfrey Matanga, the Commissioner-General of the police were
cited as the second and third respondents, respectively.
The application was however dismissed yesterday by Justice Thompson Mabhikwa.
Kucaca Phulu, the MDC lawyer and also Nkulumane legislator said: “We are going to be appealing that prohibition order by the police.”