HOME Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu says the State will not allow the MDC Alliance and its followers to target President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Munhumutapa offices in Harare among places cited for next Tuesday’s opposition march to press for electoral reforms.
The Nelson Chamisa-led opposition coalition has called for a street demonstration against the current government’s failure to roll out comprehensive electoral reforms ahead of harmonised elections July 30.
Addressing a media briefing at the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House Friday, MDC Alliance co-principal, Tendai Biti accused government of attempting to rig the election and went on to outline a host of demands by the multi-party front before elections are held.
These include the immediate release of the voters’ roll and its external audit, the demilitarisation of electoral processes, opposition access to the main broadcaster and the deployment of international observers.
Biti said Tuesday’s “peaceful” march shall also see protesters proceed to the highly protected Munhumutapa Building which houses the office of the President and his deputies.
“We have resolved in terms of Section 59 (of the Constitution) that we will carry out a demonstration in Harare on the 5th of June 2018. Participants will gather at Africa Unity Square and then will march to ZEC offices where we will present a document.
“We will then proceed to Munhumutapa building and wind back at Africa Unity Square where we will be addressed by our leadership,” he said.
But Mpofu told NewZimbabwe Friday that the opposition was best advised to continue with its electoral campaigns than engage in protests that had the potential to disturb prevailing peace in the country.
He also queried the decision by the MDC Alliance to march to the President’s offices while urging the opposition to consider its position.
“We have clearly stated that we will not tolerate any undue behaviour from any quota while we prepare for the elections,” Mpofu said.
He added: “How can a demonstration that is targeting the Head of State’s office be said to be peaceful?
“If it is true that they want to march to the president’s office, that cannot be viewed as peaceful and we appeal to them not to do that. It’s time for campaigns and they should actually do their organisation in a peaceful manner.”
Mpofu was quick to say that the opposition march should be planned in accordance with the country’s tough security laws.
“They should demonstrate within the confines of the law. That is acceptable; but I am sure they know that they have to apply and be allowed. But my only concern is that they want to target the president’s office which to me does not look proper.”
If Tuesday’s demonstration proceeds as planned, it would be the first major test to Mnangagwa’s commitment to a return to the observance of citizens’ basic freedoms which were denied by his predecessor Robert Mugabe.
The demo would be the first major protest against government by the country’s opposition since Mugabe was overthrown by the military November last year.
While Mnangagwa and his regime have allowed relative freedoms to be enjoyed by citizens, the new President came under fire on the eve of new year when the State apparatus which included police and the military descended on a group of Mthwakazi Republic Party activists at a Bulawayo church meeting in which he was the main guest, demanding that he came clean on his role in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres which killed an estimated 20,000 civilians.