Court bars MDC weekend rally

mdc_logoA Harare court has upheld a decision taken by the police to bar the MDC from holding a rally in the capital this week, claiming the venue is too close to a ZANU PF gathering.

Chief Superintendent Garikai Gwangwava from Harare Central on Thursday advised MDC-T Secretary-General Tendai Biti that the MDC Peace Rally, set to take place at Glamis Arena on Saturday, could not be sanctioned because it coincided with a ZANU PF rally scheduled to take place near by.

My office regrets to advise you that your intended place of rallys proximity and timings coincide with that of ZANU PF which is also holding a rally on the same date at the open space between the Rainbow Towers and Interpol Offices, which is less than 500 metres from your intended venue. Please also take note that the roads that lead to your intended venue are the same that lead to ZANU PFs venue and there is a likelihood of clashes between supporters which might lead to violence, Gwangwava wrote to Biti.

Harare Magistrate Mercy Chimbodza then upheld this decision on Friday, dismissing the MDCs attempt to have the polices decision overturned.

A previous application by the MDC to hold the rally at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield was also turned down by the police. The Harare South district police claimed the venue has been booked by ZANU PF for the rest of the year.

Political analyst Professor John Makumbe told SW Radio Africa on Friday that this is an organised blockage of MDC activities, with the police carrying out a ban they put in place on MDC rallies earlier this month. This ban was subsequently overturned by Robert Mugabe, in what observers have said was a deliberate ploy to appear to be playing by the rules. Mugabe apparently took this decision after a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who raised concerns that the MDC was being prevented from holding public rallies.

But Makumbe argued on Friday that it now appears that this ban is coming back through flimsy excuses like double booking of venues.

It is a pity that the courts fail to see these machinations by ZANU PF. This is where you see the true partisan nature of the judiciary, Makumbe said.

A High Court judge meanwhile this week granted an interim relief to the MDC-T Matabeleland North executive, allowing it to hold rallies in preparation for the partys congress at the end of next month. The MDC-T filed an urgent chamber application last week, asking the court to force the police to allow them to hold its 12 provincial restructuring meetings. This was after police in Hwange, where the partys provincial headquarters are based, said the party was not allowed to hold meetings in Hwange East, West, Central and Binga districts.

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