Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) is contemplating taking the police to court to stop the law enforcement agency from banning its rallies.
All the 63 CCC districts last week made applications to hold constituency rallies, but only five, according to the national organising secretary Amos Chibaya, were cleared.
The police gave varying reasons that include failing to comply with the Maintenance of Public Order Act (Mopa) and that the venues were booked already for other activities.
In other instances, the police said the neighbours did not approve hosting the rallies.
“As the organising secretary for the CCC, I see the move as a way of barring the party from holding rallies,” Chibaya said.
“The police know that this is an election year and parties need to campaign.
“We were targeting the 63 districts but we are being denied. Out of the 63, I think only five were cleared.”
Chibaya said it was surprising that the police cited Mopa because the party used generic letters drafted by a lawyer in compliance with the law.
He said the party will not back down, but will explore various methods of engagement with its supporters as well as challenging the police in the courts.
Veteran opposition leader and CCC treasurer David Coltart said the refusal by the police to sanction the party’s rallies effectively meant that it was banned.
“It’s abundantly clear that Zanu PF has banned CCC,” Coltart said on Twitter.
“Our structures have been applying to have meetings throughout Zimbabwe and every trick in the book is used to prevent these meetings from taking place.
“Then when we have private meetings; people are arrested.”
In the run-up to the by-elections held on March 26, last year, the police banned about six of the CCC rallies, but the opposition party managed to get 19 seats out of the 28.
The party also grabbed most local council seats contested especially in the urban centres.
Critics have accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of closing civil space by denying opposition members freedom of association, assembly and expression.
Mnangagwa is likely to face CCC leader Nelson Chamisa in presidential elections later this year in what could be a repeat of the 2018 contest where the 80-year-old ruler narrowly won the disputed polls. One of the first surveys to be released ahead of the elections revealed that CCC would win a free and fair poll.
The survey by Sabi Strategy Group commissioned by the Brenthurst Foundation, Johannesburg-based research organisation funded by the Oppenheimer family said Chamsia would garner 53% of the ballots while CCC will get 52% in parliamentary elections.
Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu PF would win 40% of the vote, the survey said. _*Standard*_