BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/ SHARON BUWERIMWE
POLICE in Harare have reportedly set tough conditions for Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) campaign rally, saying only party supporters from Highfield would be allowed to attend the event at the Zimbabwe Grounds on Sunday.
Police also said party activists would not be allowed to chant slogans, toyi-toyi and hold processions to the venue.
Party members are also expected to strictly adhere to COVID-19 regulations, among them social distancing, masking up and sanitising.
This would be Chamisa’s first public rally since he dumped the MDC Alliance name and adopted CCC.
The young opposition politician intends to officially launch his party’s campaign ahead of the March 26 by-elections.
According to an unsigned letter from the police dated February 17, 2022 and addressed to CCC Harare provincial organising secretary Paul Madzore, the law enforcement agency warned that it would stop the rally if the conditions were violated.
“Your political members shall not intimidate passers-by and those who have nothing to do with your launch. You shall not block the thoroughfares and roads around the venue of your launch. Bussing in of people from other constituencies is strictly prohibited,” the memo reads in part.
“Your members shall not be involved in toyi-toying, convoying of vehicles of people chanting slogans and singing and disseminating hateful and defaming information. Co-operation with all government agencies is highly appreciated. You are directed to observe and stick to COVID-19 regulations.”
Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza referred questions to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, who, however, said party rallies were regulated at lower levels.
“Issues to do with rallies are dealt with at provincial level. If the concerned political party members have issues with the set guidelines, they can approach the local police authorities to have their issues addressed,” Nyathi said.
Last week, Zanu PF held its campaign rally in Epworth which was addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, where thousands of ruling party supporters attended after being bussed in from various provinces.
Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC Alliance supporters on Wednesday held a procession, chanting slogans in central Harare in memory of the opposition party’s founding leader the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere last night accused police of selectively applying the law, describing the conditions set by the law enforcement agents as unconstitutional.
“The Zimbabwe Police have cleared our star rally scheduled for Sunday February 20, 2022, but with unconstitutional clauses in the approval letter. This selective application of the law is regrettable and unconstitutional. Do the restrictions you’ve imposed on @CCCZimbabwe apply to @edmnangagwa or are some animals more equal than others? We need new leaders!
“There is one rule for them and another rule for us. These conditions are unconstitutional and violate our right to equality before the law. Why were these restrictions not placed on @ZANUPF_Official & @OurMDCT? The regime is scared stiff!,” she tweeted.
“Sec 67 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe gives citizens the right to support any political cause, individually or in groups. Why ban slogans at a rally? Why ban singing? Why ban transport? @ZECzim, this is what we mean when we say the playing field is not free or fair! They were allowed to sing, chant slogans, convoy vehicles and gather in their thousands, but they say @CCCZimbabwe can’t! @PoliceZimbabwe are you aware that s68 of the Constitution obliges you to be substantively fair in all your administrative decision making?,” Mahere added.
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