Top cops have told officers around the country to let opposition parties hold their campaign rallies, after banning several Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) events in recent weeks.
In an internal memo, a Deputy Commissioner warned commanders that banning rallies was harming Zimbabwe’s election integrity. He said social media was “ablaze” with claims of CCC being denied permits, creating scenes that “discredit the electoral process”.
The memo instructed commanders to only reject rallies for “very valid reasons” after careful consultation. Allowing meetings and rallies freely is needed for elections to be “free, fair, peaceful and credible,” the note stressed.
The Deputy Commissioner said police were committed to upholding the law and ensuring all parties can campaign freely. Commanders were told to familiarize themselves with laws governing political activities and rallies to “make informed decisions”.
The CCC has accused the police of targeting it ahead of the August 23 vote. Police recently banned CCC rallies in Bindura, Chiredzi and Zaka, firing teargas to disperse supporters in Chiredzi. Eight members were arrested.
Senior police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the memo was an “internal communication” to guide commanders but leaked to media. He said an investigation was underway to find out how “this unruly element got access”.
Nyathi declined to name who wrote the memo, saying only: “I’ve given you an official position and that’s enough for now.”