Zimbabwe Police Ban Mavambo Meeting
The launch of Mavambo.Kusile.Dawn on July 01 this year. The party, led by Dr Simba Makoni, a presidential candidate in March last year, has been denied permission to hold a march and a meeting in central Harare by the police, even though, at law, the police have no right to ban the meeting. They have simply said that they can not provide an escort, which means there would be no one controlling traffic in the city centre. The party leadership is in meetings at the moment trying to strategise on the way forward. That is the Inclusive Government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert "The Solution" Mugabe for you.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 15 October 2009
The police have refused to grant permission to the Mavambo. Kusile.Dawn party led by Dr Simba Makoni permission to hold a meeting scheduled for Saturday, 24 October in Harare.
Makoni's party had notified the police that they would be marching through the centre of Harare on the day, culminating in a gathering at Africa Unity Square, in front of Herald House and Parliament, where the gathered supporters would be addressed by Makoni and other Mavambo leaders.
The refusal to grant permission is unlawful even under the draconian Public Order and Security Act, which was amended a long time ago. The new POSA requirements are that the police only need to be notified of the gathering and can not allow or disallow it.
However, Chief Superitendent Gwangwava, Officer Commanding Police for Harare Central District wrote to Mavambo yesterday stating, "My office regret to advise youthat your request is not approved. The District manpower is engaged on COSAFA tournament which is hosted by this country. Furthermore, my office feels that your request is ill-timed and allowing it will affect peace currently prevailing in Harare Central District."
Of course, the truth of the matter is that the only disturbance of the peace would come from the police themselves, who are quick to wield batons and beat up protesters from any other group except those aligned to ZANU PF (and of course, now, they are also protecting the MDC and allowing its meetings).
This is happening with an MDC minister, who is supposed to represent democracy, in charge at the ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the police.
You have to admit, though, the Officer Commanding is a proper diplomat, turning the party down in a polite manner! The fact still remains that they have banned the meeting.
Although the police are not entitled to forbid the gathering, should the party decide to go ahead regardless, you can rest assured that those marching will be beaten up and dispersed violently by the police. Just ask Jenni Williams and her brave comrades at Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who are now past masters at dodging the police during protests because theirs are never approved.
It remains to be seen whether, after COSAFA is finished, the police will allow the march and the gathering, though I doubt it. The telling thing is one of the reasons given for the refusal to grant permission, which is that the meeting would disturb the peace currently prevailing in Harare Central District.