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Dr Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s self-exiled former Tourism Minister, has said Zimbabwe’s police force lacks independence and will continue to terrorise opposition groups as long as they receive orders to do so from the ruling party, ZANU PF.
Mzembi’s remarks come in the wake of accusations by the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) that ZANU PF is influencing the police to ban its national campaign mega-launch rally in Bindura, scheduled for 9th July 2023. The party has challenged the ban in court saying the ban is unlawful. CCC further alleges that ZANU PF has used various forms of violence, including intimidation and unlawful arrests, to disrupt or ban over 92 of their meetings or rallies since January 2022.
In a Twitter post seen by Pindula News, Mzembi who is backing former Local Government Minister Saviour Kawsukuwere for the presidency, said:
@PoliceZimbabwe are following political orders, until those orders are reversed or nullified they will continue to play cat & mouse with Opposition. We all know where the Order came from & how only a principled command can resist and do the right thing!
Police refused to authorise the rally citing insecurity at the proposed venue and a lack of logistics arrangements. Police say political parties should follow the guidelines enshrined in the Maintenance of Public Order Act (MOPA) which replaced the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA). The law gives the police broad powers to regulate public gatherings and demonstrations, and to prohibit or disperse any gathering that is deemed to be a threat to public order or safety. Police are authorised to arrest and detain individuals who participate in unauthorised gatherings or protests.
The law has been widely criticized by human rights groups and the international community for its restrictive nature and the way it has been used by the government of Zimbabwe to suppress opposition groups and limit freedom of expression.