ZVISHAVANE – Members of the opposition coalescing under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) who had planned to stage a massive demonstration against the government last Saturday were left disappointed after police refused to authorise the demo, claiming the route that the demonstrators wanted to take was booked for another demo.
The demonstration, which was intended to start at 10:30 am from Mandava bus terminus and moving along Masvingo-Bulawayo road to Acropol, failed to kick off after the police wrote to organisers informing them of the prohibition.
The march was intended to coincide with demonstrations against government unwillingness to even the political playing field and address economic problems elsewhere in the country.
Speaking to TellZim News, secretary for defence and security for the MDC-T's Midlands South province, Trynos Shava expressed dissatisfaction over the way police handled the matter.
"We booked for this area two weeks ago and we spent a lot of time discussing the demo with the police and we were initially granted permission to go ahead with the march. I was surprised see another letter barring us from proceeding with the demonstration," Shava said.
The party's secretary-general for Zvishavane district, Peter Hove accused the police of being partisan, saying Zanu PF gatherings are always sanctioned without any hassles.
"This must not happen again. How can the police reverse an authorisation for our demo simply to accommodate a Zanu PF gathering when we applied for clearance first? This is an act of gross injustice. Zanu PF only applied two weeks after we had been cleared yet they got first
preference," said Hove.
Zvishavane has not experienced any of the numerous protests that have rocked the country in recent weeks.
In their letter to Hove, the police indicated that they could not sanction the demo because another demo convened by one Alfred Matayaya was scheduled to take place on the same date, time and following the same route.
The police also cited alleged failure by conveners to furnish them with information on the names and number of marshals as provided in section 25 (2) (g) of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) Chapter 11:17.
The conveners also, among many other things, allegedly failed to explain the manner in which participants were going to be transported to the place of assembly and from the point of dispersal.news