SCORES of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members in Bulawayo are currently on leave resulting in the department turning down requests from organisations seeking to conduct processions in the city, police have said.
According to police correspondence dated December 5 denying the opposition MDC to have a procession commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, most members are on leave ahead of the festive season deployments.
The MDC had intended to march on December 7 but the police regulating authority for Bulawayo Central District said they may not adequately deploy staff.
“I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated November 20 2013 in which you intend to commemorate 16 Days of Activism starting with a procession from (the) Small City Hall to number 34A Jason Moyo Street, Bulawayo on 07 December 2013, from 8am to 4pm,” reads part of the response signed by a regulating authority official for Bulawayo Central District.
The police said there was a strong hint of displeasure towards groups opposed to the government and hooligans might take advantage and cause commotion.
“Information at hand shows that there is strong apprehension towards groups opposed to the government. Hooligans may join in the procession with intention of disrupting the whole process. Marching along the streets may also lead to provocation of other political parties leading to clashes thereby endangering the public and property in the central business district (CBD).
“The majority of our officers are also on leave ahead of the festive season deployments and in the event of clashes, we may not adequately deploy.
“It is in this background that the procession cannot be sanctioned for the sake of preserving peace in the CBD,” reads the letter. The police said MDC should confine its activities to its provincial offices along Jason Moyo Street.
During the 16 Days commemorations period, police detained members of activist group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza), including its leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, after the group presented a petition at Mhlanhlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo demanding fair treatment of women and children as a way of marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.