Police on high alert as opposition threatens protests against ED Mnangagwa’s election victory

Commissioner Paul Nyathi

Security agencies in Zimbabwe are on high alert as the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) plans to stage protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory in August last year.

Police sources revealed to NewsDay yesterday that senior officers at provincial and district levels have been placed on standby to swiftly respond to any attempts by the opposition to organize street demonstrations.

In an interview with NewsDay, National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi warned that the police would take action against organizers of unsanctioned gatherings. He emphasized the importance of complying with the country’s laws regarding public gatherings, stating that anyone planning such activities must adhere to the provisions of the law.

Nyathi also cautioned against the use of social media to incite violence, stating that individuals or groups issuing threats, whether online or in person, would face legal consequences. He emphasized the police’s constitutional duty to maintain law and order and assured the public that the force would take appropriate action if necessary.

While police described the political situation in the country as “peaceful and conducive for all socio-economic activities,” they issued a warning to those engaging in activities that could destabilize the nation. According to Nyathi, the police were aware of efforts by certain individuals and groups to incite violence through unsanctioned gatherings, economic sabotage, and alarming messages on social media.

Wilbert Mandinde, the Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, criticized the police’s threats, deeming them unnecessary. Mandinde stressed that the Constitution permits peaceful demonstrations, and while compliance with the law, particularly the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Mopa), is essential, the police should be patient and grant permission for demonstrations once the necessary applications are made.

Meanwhile, CCC spokesperson Gift Siziba confirmed the party’s plans to hold grassroots meetings across the country and expressed their determination to exercise their constitutional rights. Siziba stated that the party would roll out programs and statutory meetings to shape their agenda for 2024 and beyond.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya viewed the police’s warning as intimidation, highlighting the contrasting treatment of opposition figures compared to the lack of arrests during Mnangagwa’s ascent to power in 2017 through a coup. Ngwenya characterized the police’s actions as a preemptive strike against unarmed civilians.

As tensions rise between the opposition and the government, the focus remains on whether the CCC’s planned demonstrations will be granted permission or face further obstacles. The situation underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the balance between constitutional rights and maintaining law and order in Zimbabwe’s political landscape.

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