Zimbabwe police have relented to demands by the country’s opposition to stage a demonstration on Wednesday in the capital Harare against alleged plans by President Robert Mugabe to “steal” next year’s polls.
The demonstrations under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) come on the same day Mugabe is set to hold crucial party meetings, including a politburo in which factionalism in Zanu-PF is expected to top the agenda.
Police had on Monday ordered the opposition parties to change the venue of the planned “feedback rally” from the city centre to the outskirts, citing security concerns.
But sources said the unbanning of the demonstrations followed protestations police were showing bias towards Mugabe and his Zanu-PF after the ruling party supporters staged demonstration unrestrained countrywide on Monday against party national commissar Saviours Kasukuwere.
The Zanu-PF supporters were demanding that Mugabe fire Kasukuwere for allegedly plotting against the 93-year old Zimbabwean ruler.
Nera official Tawanda Dzvokora, told News24 late on Tuesday police had cleared the demonstration which he said will, among other issues, brief citizens on a litigation filed by opposition parties against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“The rally will address the issues Nera petitioned ZEC on the 22nd of March and the response from ZEC. It will also address the delays in voter education, voter registration by ZEC,” said Dzvokora, adding that citizens would also be briefed on the action being done to engage the Southern Africa Development Community, African Union and United Nations on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Nera filed a lawsuit last month against ZEC in regards to the electoral body and Mugabe’s government take-over of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) procurement.
Opposition parties said ZEC, the only body charged with holding all elections in Zimbabwe, broke its contractual obligation with opposition stakeholders to allow the United Nations Development Programme to procure BVR system
Dzvokora alleged ZEC and the government did not consult other stakeholders but instead a decision that the Zanu-PF government was taking over the procurement process was announced in the press without consulting any of the opposition parties.
“Furthermore ZEC has stalled all meeting’s with opposition since last year. ZEC broke all communication and made unilateral decisions with the government that affect the opposition and all the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.
But police would nonetheless keep a close watch over the proceedings, with a view of cracking the whip against malcontents, police sources told News24.