POLICE in Harare say they are unable to sanction MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s planned Hope of the Nation Address scheduled for this Wednesday at the Africa Unity Square in central Harare.
In a letter to Chamisa, police say they fear that “rogue elements” could take advantage of the rally and unleash violence in Harare where there is a large volume of human and vehicular traffic due to the festive season.
“As discussed in a consultation meeting on November 15, 2019 in my office, I am not in a position to sanction the event due to the following reasons. The current situation in the CBD is volatile, the volume of both human and vehicular traffic has increased tremendously as we approach the festive season coupled with payment of bonuses to government workers. For this reason, that chances that your intended gathering will be taken advantage of by some rogue elements are very high,” the police said.
“The ordinary citizens in the country are experiencing economic hardships so any call for a public meeting in the CBD might be taken advantage of by the already agitated citizens and violence may erupt.”
Police added that they could not guarantee the security of diplomats who the MDC had invited to its gathering.
“… You invited diplomats who also fall under our constitutional mandate. As far as their security is concerned, it will be very difficult to guarantee their security at a venue we deem inappropriate because of the above-mentioned reasons.”
In response to the ban, Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said the response by police showed that they were ‘panicking.’
“We have an authoritarian regime, and the democratic space is closed for us. They are panicking.”
Since the January protests called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which were supported by the MDC and turned violent, the opposition party has repeatedly found it impossible to convince the authorities to clear its rallies.
— Zimbabwe Voice