Zimbabwe opposition party condemns ban by police to hold rally
A spokesperson for the Zimbabwean Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party reacted to the police thwarting a rally planned for Sunday.
“You can try and ban us from the stadium but you can’t ban us from the hearts of the people and Zimbabwean citizens are determined and ready for change”, she said.
Political temperatures are rising in the run-up to what is expected to be a tense vote on August 23, in a country that has been ruled by one political party, Zanu-PF, since independence from Britain 43 years ago.
Zimbabwean police Friday thwarted a planned weekend opposition campaign rally over lack of toilets and unsuitable roads to the venue, the latest in a series of bans ahead of August crunch polls.
The party, once led by Robert Mugabe, faces its biggest challenge from the largest opposition group, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) of 45-year-old Nelson Chamisa.
The rally, scheduled for Sunday in Bindura town, 90 kilometres (56 miles) northeast of the capital, Harare, is the fourth CCC meeting to be banned countrywide within a week.
A police letter stopping the rally said the venue was a “bushy” piece of land “without serviceable roads, water and sewer facilities”.
It said there was a “high risk of threat to the spread” of communicable diseases.
The venue poses “a high-risk security threat” to the rally-goers, it added, saying if there was any public disorder, the police and emergency workers would struggle to access the venue “due to unavailability of an official road network”.
“Our mandate to protect life and property and to maintain law and order will be compromised,” said the police, adding the opposition failed to give sufficient notice of the meeting, which is seven days in advance, as stipulated by the law.
The gathering, where the CCC was going to formally launch its election manifest, was much anticipated.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, who replaced strongman Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup, is seeking re-election.
But he faces a disaffected population that is battling hyperinflation, poverty and high unemployment.
Tendai Biti, a senior CCC lawmaker, tweeted that the continuous banning of their political events reduces “this election to an absolute charade”.