The Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has approached the High Court to challenge attempts by police to block a rally meant to launch the party’s August 23 election campaign amid charges that the law enforcement agency is taking sides in the contest.
Police refused to give permission to CCC to hold the rally in Bindura, Mashonaland West, today arguing that the proposed venue had no access road and toilets.
The opposition party sought to have the police decision overturned by Bindura magistrate Maria Msika, who set the case for hearing on July 11, days after the date proposed by CCC.
CCC yesterday filed an urgent High Court application seeking authority to have the ban lifted.
In the application filed through lawyer Jeremiah Bamu, the CCC cited Msika and officer commanding Bindura district as respondents.
“It is declared that an urgent appeal filed in terms of section 11 of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Chapter 11:23) is not subject to regulation in terms of order 22 rule 10 of the magistrate court rules, 2019,” reads part of the application.
“First respondent be and is hereby directed to set the appeal filed by the applicants in case number BNPCA 130/23 for determination forthwith and in any event by no later than 11am on July 9, 2023.”
CCC conveners Samuel Gondongwe, Agreement Kagura, Susan Mawire and CCC are the applicants.
The High Court will hear the case today at 8am.
Yesterday, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi defended the refusal to sanction the CCC rally.
According to Nyathi, CCC initially wanted to hold the rally at Chipadze Stadium, but changed the venue after it emerged that the facility was undergoing renovations.
Nyathi said CCC members offered their private properties as alternative venues.
“The stands are in a private area, which has other beneficiaries who need to be consulted before the rally is sanctioned,” he said.
“The two stands in Brookdale area, which are roughly measuring 3800 and 3900 square metres respectively cannot accommodate many people and have no access roads or ablution facilities as the areas are yet to be fully developed.”
On Friday, Bindura police said the chosen venue did not have the necessary facilities.
“The venue falls within an undeveloped piece of land, which is bushy without serviceable roads, water and sewer facilities,” reads the letter in response to CCC’s notification.
“It provides a high-risk security threat to the participants and high-risk threat to the spread of any communicable disease.
“In the event of any public disorder, the police and other emergency services would have challenges accessing the venue….”
On Wednesday, police in Chiredzi, Masvingo, banned a CCC rally and fired teargas canisters to disperse supporters who had gathered for the event.
Police also arrested eight CCC members for allegedly defying the ban on the rally.
In Zaka, Chamisa was stopped in the middle of an address by police officers who claimed they had been told his time was up.
Police also blocked another CCC constituency campaign launch scheduled for Mazowe saying the venue had been booked.
Mazowe district officer commanding one Masimba said an unnamed political party had already booked the open space.
CCC spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, told The Standard that Chamisa and his party members will forge ahead with their election campaigns despite the state sponsored setbacks.
“Chamisa has gone ahead with his presidential tour of Masvingo Province and it will spread to all provinces in Zimbabwe,” Mahere said.
“While Zanu PF is capturing state institutions to ban our rallies, we are winning hearts and minds.”
“Nothing can stop us. We are building a Zimbabwe for everyone.”
Chamisa is one of the 11 presidential candidates.
Mahere said Zanu PF can never win a free and fair election.
“Zanu PF can never win a free and fair election, which is why they’re resorting to rally bans and abusing the police service to try and stop our campaign activity,” she said.
“This is a clear violation of the constitutional standard and Southern African Development Community principles on free and fair elections.
“They are terrified, unelectable and worse than Robert Mugabe.”
Zanu PF commissar, Mike Bimha, director of information, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, and spokesperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa could not be reached for comment yesterday.