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POLICE have blocked planned protests by some members of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa.
The party had asked the police for permission to peacefully protest over the recall of its legislators and President Emmerson Mnangawa’s victory in the August 2023 polls.
The opposition party members, dubbed Concerned Citizens had applied to hold protests in several districts across Zimbabwe on Tuesday this week, but the applications were all turned down.
Police said the applications failed to meet the provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Mopa).
In a letter dated January 3, 2024, Hurungwe district officer commanding, Kezias Karuru advised the convener of the demonstrations, Mathew Chapfura to comply with the law in his application.
“Reference is made to your notificationdated December 30, 2023 on the above subject. This office is not able to take action on your notice as it lacks the requisite averments. The Maintenance of Peace and Order Act is explicit on what constitutes a notice and averments required of the notice. Please comply with the law,” he said.
NewsDay is reliably informed that there was heavy police presence in Hurungwe and Makonde district on Tuesday following the notification by the opposition party members that they wanted to protest on the day.
Sources told NewsDay that police dispersed crowds throughout the day in district centres, ordering early closure of businesses.
Police last week issued a warning against individuals who would attempted to incite public violence, both physically and on social media.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told NewsDay in an interview yesterday that the approval of notifications to conduct demonstrations is usually determined by the “existing situation” on the ground and by the security assessment of the regulating authority.
“Organisations and entities intending to conduct processions or demonstrations should comply in full with the provisions of The Maintenance of Peace and Order Act Chapter 11:23,” Nyathi said.
“This includes official appointment of convener, engagement with local regulating authority and interacting with other stakeholders among other requirements which include the safety and security of the community especially other people not involved in the procession or gathering.”
He added: “In this regard, the Zimbabwe Republic Police implores organisations and their entities to fully familiarise with the provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act Chapter 11:23 and to notify the regulatory authority about their gathering. The approval of notifications will be determined by the existing situation on the ground and by the security assessment of the regulating authority.”
Convener of the planned demonstrations in Hurungwe district, Chapfura said the participants intended to march on the streets in protest of various electoral malpractices.
“We intended to march along the streets with placards to register our disgruntlement over the unlawful recalls of elected legislators from Parliament,” Chapfura said.
“We are in protest of the by-elections. They are illegal. If we are to have an election we have to start afresh under free and fair conditions. We wanted to protest against Mr Mnangagwa’s victory because the election was a sham.
“We wanted it to be a peaceful protest in full compliance of the law, that is, with the presence of the security officers, marshal among other things.”
Police have in the past blocked dozens of the opposition party’s planned gatherings for failing to comply with Mopa. _*NewsDay*_