CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is banning rallies by his party because it is sensing defeat in next year’s elections.
Police refused to sanction yet another rally by Chamisa, which was scheduled for Chipinge yesterday claiming that CCC supporters attacked Zanu PF members when they celebrated the party’s victory in the March 26 by-elections in the district.
Zanu PF’s Masvingo provincial executive was last night frantically trying to stop a CCC rally to be addressed by Chamisa at Mucheke Stadium, saying the law prohibits holding of political meetings at the venue.
The CCC leader yesterday said the move by the police showed that Mnangagwa and Zanu PF were running scared ahead of the elections as the opposition party was gaining momentum across the country.
“The CCC is the next government and our colleagues in Zanu PF are running scared, and so afraid,” Chamisa said.
“They have resorted to desperate tactics and measures to shut us out, particularly in the countryside.
“They have been banning our meetings.
“Our rallies have been banned and they are not happy to see us visible in the communities.
“Despite the bans, people are supporting us.
“We are not new to the bans, but these bans are occasioned by fear, and the phobia they have for the juggernaut called the CCC.
“The yellow movement has taken the whole country by storm. They can’t manage it. We are beyond that.”
Chamisa added: “Our offices and headquarters are in the minds and convictions of Zimbabweans. We are indomitable.
“We are unconquerable. They can try all sorts of tactics, but those tactics won’t help them.”
CCC interim spokesperson Fadzai Mahere said the banning of the Chipinge rally also brought into sharp focus biased policing in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party amid concerns over the shrinking democratic space.
“This unconstitutional, paranoid conduct confirms that Zanu PF is afraid of our visibility in communities like Chipinge so they’re abusing institutions to silence us,” Mahere said.
Police recently banned CCC rallies scheduled for Gokwe, Marondera, Glen Norah and Binga.
“We remain steadfast and will certainly host the rally but at a later date. We are not shaken,” Mahere said.
“Zanu PF continues its streak of disrupting our meetings and violating our right to assemble.”
Analysts expressed concern over the shrinking democratic space a few months before the 2023 polls.
“The ban will give credence to claims that the state is shrinking democratic space in Zimbabwe. In a normal democracy, parties are free to carry out campaigns,” political analyst Methuseli Moyo told The Standard.
Another political analyst Kudakwashe Munemo said police were selectively applying the law given the fact that Zanu PF was allowed to meet without any restrictions.
“Political space is increasingly shrinking ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections; more technical reasons shall continue to be used to selectively bar the freedom of assembly given that the ruling party’s processes are ongoing,” Munemo said.
“It reflects that they are considered a huge threat to the current establishment and may have to devise counter strategies in order to carry out their activities.”
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi yesterday denied charges that the law enforcement agency was targeting CCC by disrupting its events and rallies.
“Normally issues to do with notifications go to the officer commanding district and when they sanction or not sanction these rallies they are not mandated to tell us so,” Nyathi said.
“It’s not automatic that once they want to have a rally or demonstration, it will be sanctioned.
On Friday, police banned a planned prayer rally in Harare to protest the weaponisation of the law against human rights’ work organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiCZ).
The CiCZ wanted to petition Parliament and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission over the shrinking democratic space after the rally.
In an urgent High Court chamber application challenging the ban, the CiCZ cited officer commanding Harare Central District, one Chief Superintendent Moyo as the respondent.
It said the ban infringed on its rights that are “guaranteed in the constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa is eyeing a second full term in next year’s elections where he is set to face Chamisa, whom he narrowly beat in the disputed 2018 elections.
An Afrobarometer survey in June showed that 33% of respondents said they would vote for Chamisa against 30% for the Zanu PF leader.
— The Standard