Civil society unsettled by police disruptions of publicity meetings
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has bemoaned continued disruptions by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police of meetings meant to publicise the constitutional
draft ahead of a referendum slated for 16 March to pave way for harmonised
municipal, senatorial, parliamentary and presidential elections.
“In what could be construed as a misapplication of the ZRP powers granted by
the Public Order and Security Act, the police have taken to disrupting or
forbidding the convening of constitutional meetings with the latest incident
being the disruption of the MDC-T rally in Harare’s Highfields suburb on
Tuesday 5 March,” charged CiCZ.
The Highfields meeting was stopped as the police insisted that it had not
been cleared, but the MDC-T National Organising Secretary, Nelson Chamisa,
said the police had been notified as required by POSA.
The National Constitutional Assembly was barred from holding a meeting in
Chipinge in Manicaland that was scheduled for 8 March 2013.
“Both the MDC-T and NCA meetings were supposed to discuss the COPAC draft
Constitution ahead of the crucial referendum to be held on 16 March and the
barring of these two organisations from holding their meetings raises the
question of whether police consent is a prerequisite to the convening of
public meetings,” read the CiZC statement.
On 27 February, the police also stopped a Media Centre constitutional debate
in Harare and three weeks earlier, they barred a Centre for Community
Development in Zimbabwe meeting in Chegutu on the constitution.
“It is clear that our beloved country is now trending back towards being a
police State. The actions of the police, in barring and disrupting the
meetings of both those who are of the ‘Yes’ vote lobby and those of the ‘No’
vote lobby pile up on the now regular raids on NGOs.
“The recent developments clearly show that free political activity in this
country is under arrest. These unwarranted disruptions expose the partisan
nature of the police force that, besides implementing Zanu-PF resolutions,
also seems to believe that Zanu (PF) alone should be given the leeway to
have audience with the people,” said McDonald Lewanika, the CiZC Director.
NCA Spokesperson Madock Chivasa expressed disgruntlement over the police
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