MDC condemns police heavy handedness

The MDC unreservedly condemns the police heavy handedness in the brutal clampdown and the throwing of teargas on commuter omnibus operators in Chitungwiza yesterday.

MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai

MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai

The MDC appreciates the efforts by local authorities to bring order and sanity in urban transport sector, but we add that it is advisable for councils and commuter omnibus operators to engage in dialogue and come up with a peaceful way to bring order in our urban areas. In this regard, we welcome the exemplary way in which the Bulawayo City Council and commuter omnibus operators engaged in meaningful and fruitful dialogue to bring sanity in urban transportation in the country’s second largest city. We urge other local authorities and commuter operators to emulate the city of Bulawayo example so that we tame the traffic jungle in our urban areas.

However, while the police have every right to assist in bringing order in our communities,  the MDC condemns in the strongest terms the police decision to fire teargas on innocent commuter operators in legitimate demonstration against what they perceived to be Chitungwiza city council’s punitive levies on all commuter operators in town.

The barbaric action by the police to engage in a violent clampdown on citizens exercising their constitutional right should be condemned in the strongest terms. We expect the police to assist in facilitating meaningful dialogue between disputing parties and not to worsen the situation by brutally attacking commuter operators who are struggling to eke a living in these trying times.

The MDC is on the side of any legitimate, constitutional and peaceful expression by citizens of the country, including commuter bus operators. There is no reason whatsoever for such heavy handedness by the police, whose responsibility is to maintain law and order and not cause unnecessary pain to citizens exercising their constitutional right of freedom of expression.

The MDC notes that it is the police themselves who have gravely affected the transportation of urban commuters by their punitive fines of $100 for even small traffic offenses at a time Zimbabweans are surviving on less than US$1 a day.

While we need the police on our roads to stem the road carnage, the new regime of punitive fines by the police will fuel corruption and are not consistent with the economic situation in the country.

The MDC roundly condemns the stiff fines gazetted by government which have fuelled corruption on our roads by police officers as well as the law enforcement agents’ use of hard, brutal power on innocent commuter operators exercising their Constitutional right in Chitungwiza. The police should operate within reasonable and civil limits and not be agents of brutality and disorder.

Hon. Lillian Timveos
Secretary for Home Affairs

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