MDC meetings banned on ‘flimsy’ pretext

CHINHOYI - Zimbabwe police on Sunday banned the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party from holding a rally here, saying the venue - a sports stadium - did not have toilets.
This was the second rally that the MDC had planned for the weekend but was forced to cancel on the orde

rs of the police. Party President, Morgan Tsvangirai, was also banned from addressing supporters in Kwekwe over fears he is mobilising support for anti-government protests.
The Public Order and Security Act requires Zimbabweans to seek permission from the police before meeting to discuss politics or holding public demonstrations. But the law empowers the police to deny permission for such meetings only for security reasons.
Chinhoyi stadium is owned by the city council and has in the past regularly hosted a variety of public events including soccer matches as well as political rallies by both the MDC and Mugabe’s ruling party.
ZimOnline was unable to get an explanation as to what could have happened to the stadium’s toilets.
But MDC chairman for Mashonaland West, Japhet Karemba, accused the police of coming up with “flimsy grounds” to ban the rally in an attempt to block the opposition from mobilising support in the province that is home to Mugabe and is a stronghold of his party.
The MDC, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and international pro-democracy groups accuse the police and army of victimising the opposition and of applying the law selectively to hamper the MDC from carrying out its activities. The government denies using security forces to victimise political opponents.
Zimbabwe has remained on a knife-edge since the MDC first threatened mass anti-government protests in March, while worsening economic hardships and food shortages continue stoking up the tensions.
Mugabe, who has in the past sent in armed soldiers and police into the streets to crush dissent, has vowed to be ruthless with opposition-led mass protests against his rule, warning that the proposed protests were a ‘dice with death’.
But the opposition leader appears undeterred, telling Mugabe he must either give up power to a transitional government that should write a new constitution and organise fresh elections under international supervision or be forced out of office. – ZimOnline

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