THE MDC Bulawayo province has vowed to forge ahead with its planned protests on Monday. The opposition party failed to overturn a police ban on its Harare protests at the High Court on Friday.
MDC Bulawayo chairperson James Sithole said the party had held cordial engagements with the police with regards to the protests tomorrow.
The party also engaged with the business community in a meeting convened by the police after they had expressed fears of violence, looting and burning down of their businesses.
“For all we know, the High Court ban on Friday relates to the planned protests in Harare. As for the MDC Bulawayo province, so far so good. We have not got any message from the police suggesting otherwise against the protests,” Sithole said.
Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube referred Southern Eye to Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi for comment. Nyathi was not picking his mobile phone.
MDC national spokesperson Daniel Molokele, in a statement yesterday, said: “In the meantime, the preparations will continue for the other already planned people’s marches to be held in Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo.”
Sithole said the MDC Bulawayo province yesterday also met with the business community and police to assure the former that their activities would not be disrupted by the protests.
In January this year, some shops were looted and others burnt by protesters. Many shops, particularly those in the high density suburbs, have failed to re-open since then.
“We have been engaging the police, as the conveners of the demonstrations and also with the business community after they raised concerns with the police over the disruptions caused to their businesses,” Sithole said.
“The business community has expressed worry of violence, looting and burning of their shops as happened in January, but our message has been very clear: We are
planning peaceful protests, where we will petition government at its Mhlahlandlela complex over an array of grievances facing the citizens.”
Meanwhile, police in the city went around suburbs discouraging residents from carrying out protests. Police officers moving in vehicles, using loud hailers, told residents not to take part in the protests.
They warned police would not fold their hands and allow violence to take place like what happened in January during the protests against fuel price hikes.
Ncube told Southern Eye that they would deploy police around the city to maintain order. He appealed to the public to remain peaceful and continue to conduct their normal day-to-day activities.
“There will be full deployment of police to maintain law, hence the public is urged to desist from protesting,” Ncube said.
On Friday, Bulawayo’s central business district was virtually deserted, with few commuter omnibuses operating as residents stayed away, despite the protests being held in Harare.