Police bid to bar Tsvangirai rally

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POLICE tried to block MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s rally at Zimbabwe Grounds scheduled for today citing shortage of manpower.

MTHANDAZO NYONI
OWN CORRESPONDENT

However, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora yesterday said the rally was going ahead as the police had reversed the ban.

“The rally had been cancelled by the police, but they have lifted the ban and it is going ahead,” he said. “They were saying it will be a public holiday and they don’t have enough manpower. The reasons were not convincing at all.”

Earlier yesterday Radio Vop reported that MDC-T had planned and notified the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) of its intention to hold a rally on a day when the continent commemorates Africa Day at Zimbabwe Grounds, a sports field in Harare’s volatile and sprawling Highfield suburb, which was to be addressed by the former trade union leader.

But the ZRP had barred the MDC-T from holding the rally claiming that the law enforcement agency was short of manpower to cover the meeting.

“My office would like to advise you that police will not be able to provide officers to cover your rally considering that the day will be a Sunday and public holiday,” reads part of the police letter written to the MDC-T by Chief Superintendent Garikai Gwangwava, the officer commanding Harare South District.

Gwangwava said the ZRP had barred the opposition party from holding the rally because of the recent skirmishes which occurred at “one of your rallies organised at Epworth”.

The police boss said the MDC-T should reschedule the rally to a later date “which is not a public holiday or a Sunday”.

Police have been accused of violating the new Constitution by trying to bar public gatherings organised by President Robert Mugabe’s opponents.

Early this month, the ZRP came under fire from Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo after it banned a procession by journalists to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. Moyo accused the police of living in the past.

— Additional reporting by Radion VOP