BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
POLICE in Harare have reportedly banned the MDC Alliance’s belated 22nd anniversary celebrations scheduled for November 28, citing manpower shortages.
The opposition party’s secretary-general Chalton Hwende told NewsDay yesterday that they would challenge the police decision, which he described as politically-motivated.
“Firstly, the police claimed that they did not have enough manpower to monitor the gathering as they will be monitoring some members of the public who have a soccer match during a voter registration campaign scheduled for that same day,” Hwende said.
But Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza said he was unaware of the matter.
Hwende also claimed that Harare City Council had initially charged them US$192 for use of the hall, but later hiked it to US$1 069,50 following “orders from above”.
“The illegitimate regime led by (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa is afraid of the MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. That is why they are making efforts to stop us from participating in the political field. That is why they do not want to recognise us as a legitimate political party. The council official who issued out the quotation told us that she was acting on orders from above,” he said. “We had budgeted for the celebrations. We are not backing off, the rally is going ahead. We are mobilising our troops. We are nearing a confrontation season. We are going to disregard the illegal and unconstitutional directive that comes from this regime and that is the stage that we are now.”
Contacted for comment, Olivia Mutandwa, the council official who issued out the quotation, denied being made to inflate the charge for hiring the hall, saying she had erroneously underquoted.
“The one with a higher quotation figure of US$1 069 is the correct one, according to the 2021 council tariffs. I had initially given them a quotation for hiring for a wedding gathering, which costs US$192, which is less than quotation for a political gathering,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chamisa told party supporters in Umzingwane, Matabeleland South province at the weekend, that he had shifted focus to rural constituencies because “that’s where the people are”.
Addressing a campaign rally in ward 12, Umzingwane, on Saturday, the opposition leader also said he would not abandon his campaign despite attacks by suspected State agents and Zanu PF supporters.
“This time around, we are going into rural areas because it’s where people are. I have been attacked in several places, but I’m not going to give up because I have the support of the people. Let us all go and register so that we can win the elections with many votes,” he said.
“There is going to be a new name for the party because our colleagues in the opposition have tried to steal our names. We are also going to change the colours of the part. This is a way of clearing confusion that has been caused in the party.”
Speaking at the same event, some villagers said they did not see any value in voting in an election whose results are predetermined, but the party leadership assured them that the 2023 poll would be a different ball game altogether.
- Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya