BY BLESSED MHLANGA
THE MDC has confronted the police demanding an explanation on why Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga has allegedly issued an illegal ban on the party’s internal meetings across the country.
MDC activities have been frozen by the police who are reportedly barring party district and ward meetings, including primary elections.
Party secretary-general Charlton Hwende has demanded an explanation from Matanga before taking legal action against what he termed illegal police action.
“We write to bring to your attention and seek an explanation concerning the unlawful prohibition of our internal party meetings by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” part of the letter to Matanga reads.
The MDC said it appears that the police had effectively banned the existence of the party and suspended the Constitution to pursue a narrow partisan agenda and bring the country into an unofficial one-party State.
“We view the above as not only unlawful, but tantamount to an unconstitutional effective banning of the MDC as a lawful and legitimate political organisation in a manner and style comparable only to the UDI [Unilateral Declaration of Independence] period when nationalist parties such as Zanu and Zapu were unlawfully prevented to freely assemble, associate and organise by the racist settler regime of Ian Douglas Smith,” Hwende wrote.
The MDC said police had used illegal sections of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) to block party district and ward level meetings in Masvingo, Bulawayo, Chiredzi, Hwange, Mashonaland West, Kwekwe, Gokwe, Silobela and other places in Harare, including Norton.
“Between September 1 and 2, 2019, our party districts had scheduled their district assembly meetings countrywide. These meetings you are aware do not require us, in terms of the law to notify the police since they are not public meetings as contemplated under Posa,” Hwende wrote.
Insiders said there was a standing order not to allow the party to strategise amid fears that renewed demonstrations aimed at removing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government from office could be in the making.
“The meetings are viewed as a security threat and there are standing orders to quash them, in line with that all activities of the MDC are being systematically stopped at grassroots level so that they cannot cause a national threat,” a highly-placed source said.
Towards the MDC’s August 16 demonstrations, a number of its district and provincial leaders in Harare and Bulawayo were abducted, tortured and left for dead by unknown assailants believed to be State security agents.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he had not seen the MDC letter delivered to the security and protocol team and signed for by an Inspector Magunayi on September 16.
He, however, told NewsDay that the MDC version was false because their operations had not been banned.
“I have checked with the regulating officers in all the areas and indications on the ground are that there is no such action towards banning the MDC. As far as we are concerned, there is nothing like that,” he said.