Riot police on Monday disrupted a Christmas party for the elderly and disabled that opposition leader Nelson Chamisa was hosting in the suburb of Highfield in Harare.
The opposition leader had not yet arrived at a local community hall when a truckload of police officers in riot gear arrived and ordered dozens of pensioners to disperse, citing the Covid-19 health emergency.
The MDC Alliance condemned the “unlawful” police actions, the party insisting that there were less than 100 people at the event and all Covid-19 protocols including social distancing were fully observed.
“The regime continues to declare war on the citizens and abuse state institutions as they fear the groundswell of organic citizen support for the people’s president Nelson Chamisa,” the party said in a statement.
“The MDC Alliance condemns the regime’s treatment of the movement as a banned political organisation. No justification exists for why armed riot police must violently disrupt the old and the infirm from receiving Christmas gifts from the president.”
MDC Alliance deputy spokesman Gift Siziba said Chamisa donated groceries to old citizens every year in December.
“President Chamisa is going to continue with his programme of giving back to the community, which has happened since the birth of this movement. We’re a social democratic party, and one of our key values is solidarity with the oppressed and the vulnerable. We’ve been disrupted but we will continue,” Siziba said.
Police have, since March last year, used Covid-19 to disrupt the MDC Alliance from holding meetings whilst banning anti-government protests.
By contrast, pro-government marches have been allowed and President Emmerson Mnangagwa regularly busses in thousands for his nationwide visits.