Police disrupted Mayor James, ratepayers meeting

Police officers from Police Intelligence Services(PISI) disrupted a peaceful meeting which had been convened by ward 12 ratepayers who wanted their councilor, Mayor Brian James, to explain his suspension and latest developments. The venue of the meeting was Hillside Sport Club.


Mayor James was suspended from doing council operations after some unscrupulous MDC-T councilors working in carhoots with management officials gave false reports to Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo about his conduct.

The meeting was prematurely stopped by two security agents at around 5:20pm whilst James was explaining reasons leading to his suspension which were provided to him by the probe team which was set up by minister Chombo.

The meeting had initially started at 5pm, after all the ratepayers had knocked off from their workplaces.

According to the meeting convener, Athur Aylen, police where notified of their intention to hold a peaceful gathering to discuss developmental issues with their councilor and permission was granted.

According to a letter in possession of this paper which was written by Aylen, the police were notified of the meeting but no time was ever mentioned by the convener.

However, according to a permission letter which was granted by police and signed for Chief Superitendent, Officer Commanding Police Regulating Authority Muzah on the day of the meeting mentioned that the meeting was supposed to start to 1600 hours to 1730 hrs.

Part of the letter from the police reads: “I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 09 March, 2012 in regard of the above subject.

Please be advised that permission to hold the meeting has been granted on the following conditions security and law enforcement agents shall attend the meeting with no restrictions. The meeting shall be held at Hillside Sport Club, Mutare from 1600 to 1730 hrs”.

But, Aylen argued that in terms of the law police were notified of the gathering in time and it was impossible to conduct such a meeting in an hour and inform all the residents about the latest developments.

He said this was a deliberate ploy by police to bar residents from participating in civic matters.

“We told residents the meeting will start from 5pm. We also notified the police and the response came late. I believe most residents will be still at their workplaces and business during the mentioned time in the police letter. This was not a political gathering but resident discussing developmental issues,” he said.

Efforts by Aylen to convince the police details that their meeting was legal fell on deaf ear as the officers remain adamant that proceeding with the meeting was illegal.

A visibly frustrated mayor James confirmed that his meeting with his residents was prematurely aborted after they were told that “time was up”.

“I am not the one who called for the meeting but residents who voted me into office wanted an explanation on my suspension and latest developments. I am a democratically elected councilor and the electorate has a right to know what happening in the local authority,” said James.

He added: “I know someone somewhere did like this meeting to happen”. Residents interviewed expressed concern, saying police behavior undermines efforts by the inclusive government to democratize the country`s political space.

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