CHINHOYI police have barred Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) from holding a rally which was scheduled for Pastoral Centre Diocese today.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Police moved to cancel the rally at the 11th hour after initially clearing it, citing lack of manpower.
The move came as a surprise to the province’s leadership led by Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo’s ex-wife Marian, who immediately approached the High Court on an urgent basis seeking to force the police to lift the cancellation.
Police have been taking a beating in the courts of law over attempts to thwart opposition political activities and have since lost two similar cases to the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T.
Moves to block the MDC-T Harare and Bulawayo demonstrations recently were nullified by the courts.
Police had on Wednesday cleared the ZimPF’s rally only to inform Marian, who had applied for the meeting, that it had been cancelled less than 24 hours before it was due to take place.
Officer commanding Makonde District, Chief Superintendent SG Ndou wrote to ZimPF informing them of the cancellation of the event on the basis that he had no manpower to provide security.
“This office had granted you the authority to go ahead with the meeting on the said date and time, but due to some security issues that have cropped up, it is unfortunate that the meeting cannot go ahead as the police do not have enough manpower to provide sufficient security,” Ndou said in a letter dated June 2, 2016.
ZimPF yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking the court’s intervention, arguing it had already made preparations and invested a lot of money into the rally after getting a nod from the police.
“For avoidance of doubt, I did the application in accordance with the Public Order and Security Act (Posa). By letter dated June 1, 2016, first respondent (Officer Commanding Makonde District) granted the applicant authority to go ahead with the meeting on the proposed date and time and that catapulted applicant into making the necessary arrangements to ensure accommodation and conferencing booking for its members from 22 constituencies of Mashonaland West province,” Chombo said in her affidavit.
“It is without debate that applicant has since suffered estimated financial cost of organising for the meeting amounting to $3 000 and more projections are still to be calculated for the returning of applicant’s membership to its home destinations.
“With respect, the conduct by first respondent (Officer Commanding Makonde District, who is confused with the Attorney-General in the application) is highly prejudicial to applicant’s interests to say the least. More importantly, no meaningful or reasonable case has been advanced by the first respondent to justify last-minute cancellation of applicant’s meeting given the prejudice applicant has already incurred both in terms of time and finance.”
In the application, the party cited the Attorney-General, Officer Commanding Makonde District, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri as respondents.
Police have of late been accused of political bias in favour of Zanu PF by allowing the ruling party to hold rallies even without informing the police. – NewsDay