Police ban MDC rally over Warriors match

HARARE - Police have extended a ban on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC political rallies, with a top officer stopping a rally scheduled for Sunningdale in the capital next Sunday.

The MDC says the banning of its rallies shows misuse of police powers.

The police has refused to okay at least five MDC rallies over the last two months mainly in Mashonaland West Province.

The ban has been extended to Harare, where a rally that was scheduled for Sunningdale 2 grounds next Sunday has also been banned.

In a letter dated September 4, 2012 addressed to the MDC Harare provincial organising secretary Tichaona Munyanyi; a police chief superintendent Mahachi, who is in charge of Mbare district, stated that police had not approved the rally.

He claimed the rally could not proceed because of an international football match between Zimbabwe and Angola on the same date.

Police stated they will be covering the football match and as such, would be unable to provide security for the MDC rally in Sunningdale.

The police say they do not have the manpower to monitor the two big events. The MDC is furious.

Obert Gutu, MDC spokesperson for Harare, said the country was fast becoming a police state.

“This clearly proves that the police are biased and unprofessional and that they are determined to virtually ban all MDC rallies in and around Harare,” Gutu said.

“Moreover, the police have absolutely no lawful right to ban our rally simply because the Warriors will be playing Angola at the National Sports Stadium on the same day. We would like to unreservedly condemn the abuse and misuse of police powers in Harare province,” said Gutu.

It is not clear yet whether the MDC will defy the police ban, but Gutu said they had played their part by informing police.

If they do press ahead with the rally, the situation could become highly volatile. The police has warned they would be tough with anyone who defies their orders.

But Gutu said the MDC did not need police permission.

He said the law only obliged political parties to merely notify the police of an intention to hold a rally.

“We are not lawfully obliged to apply for police permission to hold any rallies and/or public meetings.

“We call upon the police to act as a professional law enforcement organ and not as some renegade and rag-tag security agency which is an appendage of the former ruling party, Zanu PF,” said Gutu.

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