Tensions rise as planned protest is banned
Plans for a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) protest march in Bulawayo next week have hit a roadblock after police barred the demonstration from taking place.
The CCC intended to use the march to voice their grievances over Zimbabwe’s disputed August election and the recent recalls of several of their members from parliament by self imposed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.
Organizers are required by law to give notice to authorities for such gatherings. However, CCC spokesman Promise Mkwananzi claims over 100 of their meetings since June, including campaign events, have been banned by police intervention.
Sure enough, police chief Superintendent Vusumuzi Nkomo wrote to the conveners confirming receipt of notification for the Bulawayo protest, but stating it did not comply with the provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, without specifying how.
The ban has only added fuel to long-simmering tensions. CCC leader Nelson Chamisa has denounced the election results and described the recalls as illegitimate. Those removed from office, like former Binga South MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda, are challenging the decisions in court but pushing ahead with calls for demonstrations.
Mkwananzi said the march was meant to exhaust all democratic options for new polls and a reversal of the recalls. But he warned that if stymied at every turn, the people may feel compelled to “liberate” themselves.
Said Mkwananzi: “When all has failed, we will go to the citizens and say we have done everything permissible in a democratic society, it’s over to you to take matters into your own hands and liberate your country. We will no longer be responsible or answerable from then on. The country will be freed.”