President Morgan Tsvangirai and other political leaders under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) did their best to comply with the law in organizing today’s mega-demonstration to press for comprehensive electoral reforms ahead of the next election.
After the police wrote late yesterday gave flimsy reasons why the peaceful march could not proceed, the law-abiding political leaders, had no option but to approach the courts.
The High Court specifically ordered the respondents, the Minister of Home Affairs and the police, “not to interfere, obstruct, or stop the march but facilitate the applicants’ constitutional and freedom to petition in a peaceful manner.”
Notwithstanding this clear and unambiguous order, the police indiscriminately and brutally dispersed the crowd that wanted to march in compliance with a court order. They assaulted and rained teargas in the city centre and at the Freedom Square near the Harare magistrates’ court.
This naked police brutality exposes one Ignatius Chombo and his colleagues, who had said the police would quash any illegal gathering. They actually meant to say they would quash any legal gathering, as they have done today by suppressing a sanctioned march.
Now that it is the government and the police who have obstructed a sanctioned march in violation of a court order, it stands to reason that this government is working very hard to provoke the law-abiding citizens of this country.
It is Chombo himself and the police that are in contempt of court and that have brazenly violated and trampled upon the constitutional rights of the citizens of this country. In any case, the petition the leaders wanted to lodge had nothing to do with the government, but with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a supposedly independent Commission.
The government’s quest to brutally stop citizens from petitioning an independent Commission can only be testimony to the incestuous relationship that exists between the two. Otherwise why is government getting worked up on a petition that has nothing to do with it?
Tomorrow is not yesterday and the new Constitution is here to stay. Today’s brutal suppression of the people will not stop them from exercising their rights as given by the Constitution.
The police should stand warned not to continue to provoke the peace-loving and innocent people of Zimbabwe whose only crime today was to attempt to exercise their rights. This regime that is now in its sunset hour should stand warned that citizens are like a spring, the more they are suppressed, the greater the rebound!
Luke Tamborinyoka Presidential spokesperson and Director of Communications Movement for Democratic change
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