Police block public debate on constitution in Harare
Police yesterday cancelled a public debate meeting on the forthcoming referendum which was supposed to take place at the Media Centre in central Harare.
Director of the Media Centre Energy Mudzengi yesterday confirmed the incident saying the police had phoned him in the morning before the event to announce the meeting had not been cleared by them.
Some of the panellists that had already been invited to speak at
the meeting included Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga, Zimbabwe Election Support Network representative Irene Petras, Noko Mjobisa from Zapu, Goodson Nguni from Zanu PF, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn representative Phillip Chapfunga, MDC 99 leader Job Sikhala and National Constitutional Assembly representative Blessing Vava.
“The meeting was cancelled this morning by the police, but we had sought permission from them and they had given us the green light to proceed,” said Mudzengi.
“We were supposed to hold the meeting last week, but due to logistical challenges we cancelled it. We approached the police to inform them we had moved the meeting to today (yesterday) and they agreed,” he said.
Mudzengi said they were astonished when the police then phoned them yesterday morning to say the meeting should not go ahead because it had not been cleared.
“We are disappointed because we had already invited the panellists and paid to advertise the event in one of the daily newspapers,” Mudzengi said.
When approached for comment on the issue, Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said:“Email me the questions and I will respond.”
Sikhala said the cancellation showed Zimbabwe was under a dictatorship bent on thwarting democratic voices.
“Zimbabwe is far from being a free society. Those who think we are no longer living in Ian Smith’s times are mistaken. Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship has become oppressive and intolerant — 10 times more than Smith,” Sikhala said.