POLICE randomly fired tear smoke into people’s houses as they dispersed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters who were attending party leader Nelson Chamisa’s star rally at Mamutse Ground in Masvingo yesterday.
Top police bosses initially tried to stop Chamisa from addressing the rally, but were stopped in their tracks by his security personnel and supporters who blocked the five officers from accessing the podium as the opposition leader addressed the crowd.
After being blocked, the police retreated only to come back armed with tear smoke canisters, truncheons and aggressive dogs, but found the CCC supporters unrelenting as they stood their ground to allow Chamisa to finish his address.
The contention was that Chamisa’s rally was supposed to end at 4pm, but it had extended by an hour after the CCC leader arrived late from another rally in Chiredzi.
In his address, Chamisa appealed to the police to exercise restraint and not be dragged into partisan politics; and playing god in the country’s electoral processes.
“I understand that the police are trying to stop this rally from continuing on account of time,” he said.
“I know it’s not your fault. You are receiving instructions, but let me say an outgoing government should never be more powerful than an incoming government, so police please remain professional and not be used for politics.”
Chamisa promised that his government would promote professional conduct of the police and pay their salaries in United States dollars once elected and end their misery at the hands of Zanu PF.
“When we get into power, the first thing we are going to do is pay everyone in US dollars, including the police. We are going to establish a professional police service and allow you to do your work without interference. This government will end your suffering,” he said.
Chamisa’s words did not calm the police bosses, who had been humiliated after they were blocked from walking onto the stage to stop the rally.
They advanced with their juniors in front and threatened journalists filming them with arrest and assault.
The CCC supporters did not budge, until their leader left as the police launched teargas into the crowds and nearby houses.
It was not immediately clear if the police made any arrests, following the stand-off which also saw supporters throwing missiles at the police in retaliation.
Supporters had endured a nine-hour wait for Chamisa after arriving at the venue at 9am, only to be addressed just for 30 minutes after 5pm.
Chamisa’s speeches normally last more than an hour and are rounded off with the introduction of candidates and prayers, but he had to forgo formalities as the police advanced.