THE OPPOSITION has thrown the cat among the pigeons after notifying police of their intention to take to the streets against the rising cost of living on October 24 – a day before a Zanu PF-initiated demonstration against alleged sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries.
MDC secretary-general Charlton Hwende told Zim Morning Post Friday afternoon they were confident the police will not stand in the way of their October 24 march.
“We are calling on Zimbabweans to come out and demonstrate against worsening human rights violations – the abduction of doctors and the beating up of vendors alleged to have stolen police helmets,” Hwende said.
“We are calling on Zimbabweans to come out and exercise their constitutional rights against the economic collapse, the erosion of workers’ salaries and the increase in cost of living.”
Hwende said the planned demonstration was not an attempt to stifle the anti-sanctions march planned for the next day.
“When we went to the police we, gathered that there was no organisation that had applied to demonstrate on October 24 or October 25. We are not aware of anything, save for Press stories indicating that there is what is being called an anti-sanctions demonstration,” Hwende said.
“But anyway, the kind of democratic space we are fight for should permit any organisation or party to express their views without interference on any given day. We expect police to offer us protection as they would do with any other party.”
Reached for comment, police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said he could not comment on the matter as he was yet to see the MDC application.
This comes as an anti-sanctions demonstration has since been given the green light, with the ruling party secretary for administration Obert Mpofu saying “the solidarity march would include government functionaries, civil society, students, the business community and all political parties, among others”.
In the recent past, Zanu PF has vowed to override any police decision that supports the opposition.
Zanu PF national political commissar Victor Matemadanda in August promised to thwart an August 16 opposition demonstrations, saying the opposition party was prone to violent protests.
“There are some people who think that democracy meant altruism. It won’t happen. These people, whenever they demonstrate, they cause mayhem. We defend national interests against looters,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe National Heroes Day commemorations.
Matemadanda castigated MDC for allegedly fronting drunk people during demonstrations to cause violence.
“If they are going to be peaceful, then we do not have a problem with them. They always make people drunk so that they put them in front of their demonstrations,” he said.
Deputy Zanu PF youth league secretary Lewis Matutu is also on record saying the MDC had no capacity to make peaceful demonstrations, regardless them applying to courts.
The apparent confrontational approach appears to have jolted the opposition into spontaneous demonstrations, with the party’s youths recently using the cover of former President Robert Mugabe’s demise to stage an unannounced demonstration.
Hwende insisted that the MDC is a non violent movement which had become a victim in Zimbabwe’s divided political landscape.
— Zim Morning Post