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Nelson Chamisa

MDC Spokesperson - Nelson Chamisa

MDC banned from holding office, home or public meetings by Irene Madongo 07 April 2011

The Zimbabwean police have now banned the MDC from holding any rallies or gatherings, according to their representatives. The MDC-T added that the ban extends to holding meetings at their offices or homes too. Over the past few weeks police have also increased their clamp-down on civic groups, arresting many activists. Observers say is an attempt by ZANU PF to protect Mugabe from any possible North African style anti-government revolts.

This latest ban on political meetings (other than those held by the ruling party of course) suggests the country is now facing an undeclared state of emergency. The MDC-T reported that this weekend in Bulawayo, at least 20 police officers in full riot gear besieged their provincial offices and ordered the meeting to disperse, saying it was illegal. Similar reports were received from Kadoma, where an MDC restructuring exercise scheduled for Sunday, did not take place as police said they would not allow such a gathering.

 On Monday MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa said: “We received communication from the police authorities in Bulawayo, Midlands North, Mashonaland West, Chitungwiza, in fact the whole country even in Masvingo, that our rallies, our meetings to prepare for our Congress, have been banned. The police issued a warning that no gathering is going to be allowed until further notice.”

Chamisa said the police simply said they were following instructions ‘from above’, and hence he suspected that Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri was behind it. He said both co-Ministers of  Home Affairs Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi had made it clear to him that they knew nothing of this ban, saying that there was also no reason for a ban to be declared.

Nhlanhla Dube, the spokesman for the Welshman Ncube-led MDC faction, said they intend to go-ahead with plans for their rally this Saturday in Bulawayo, despite the police stating they should not proceed. Meanwhile, Chamisa has said the MDC-T has plans in place to deal with this new ban, but would not divulge the details. “We actually are going to exhaust whatever remedies are within our reach politically and legally so that we are able to deal with these issues as soon as possible,” he stated.

The political parties are also furious that Mugabe was allowed to proceed with his ZANU PF anti-sanctions rally a few days ago, yet they are barred from holding meetings. “It becomes appalling to reason that one party in the tri-partite arrangement in government can have a mass gathering (disguising it as a national programme), while other parties cannot do the same,” Dube said. “Just a week ago Mugabe had a rally. That meeting was held just a few days ago, and now we’re being told we can’t hold our own little and small meetings, even at our own offices, in our own homesteads, that is ridiculous,” Chamisa added.