Selective application of the law retrogressive

WHILE we support every effort being made by our dedicated police force to maintain law and order in Zimbabwe, it is, however, increasingly becoming difficult to understand why the law enforcement agents appear fervently intent on blocking any activity to do with the opposition MDC party.

NewsDay Comment

For the umpteenth time, the police this week refused to grant MDC leader Nelson Chamisa permission to make his public address in Harare’s most populous Mbare high-density suburb.

This has prompted the MDC leader to blow his top on micro-blogging social media platform Twitter saying: “Enough is enough. We have exhausted all channels and we can’t continue to be victims of unjust application of the law. Rights are for all. On Tuesday January 21, we will deliver the people’s Agenda 20 to the nation, come what may.”

We hold no brief for the MDC, but we believe we have the democratic right to question certain decisions that appear to be unjust, be they affecting the powers-that-be, the opposition or any ordinary citizen.

It does not require a critical thinker to be curious about what is informing the police to keep banning any gathering requested by the opposition. For the record this is an official political party with considerable representation in Parliament.

Many questions boggle the mind. Is the MDC party an illegal party? If it is an illegal political party, when was it outlawed and for what reason? If it is not illegal, then why is it not being allowed to exercise its democratic right to gather and air its views on the contemporary Zimbabwe situation?

National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi tells us that they were guided by the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act in banning the opposition’s latest request for a gathering. But was that law crafted for the opposition political parties, especially the MDC alone? We believe the continued ban on MDC public gatherings appear to suggest that the party is a lawless organisation. Does that law also apply to the ruling Zanu PF party or all other organisations be they political or otherwise? Why does it appear as if the police are selectively applying the law? Why is it that the police appear jittery about the MDC gatherings anywhere within the borders of Zimbabwe as if they are some very dangerous armed rebel group? Or maybe the police are deliberately creating the ground for confrontation so that they justify a brutal clampdown on the opposition.

Whatever the agenda, stifling citizens and caging them in a tight corner where they are not allowed to freely exercise their constitutional rights is recipe for disaster. Repression of any individual in whatever form, especially through the selective application of the country’s laws, is particularly retrogressive for our troubled democracy and tarnishes the image of the police. It paints the police as partisan and driving the agenda of the ruling Zanu PF party. If this is the case, then why do the police not declare their interests? Under such circumstances, it becomes difficult for the police to tell citizens that they are a professional organisation which applies the law without any fear or favour.

In fact what is happening only serves to embolden the opposition voice. We have no doubt that with this, we remain a divided nation always in fighting mood and when will we have enough time to rebuild our nation as a united people? What legacy will we leave our children? Food for thought!

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