POLICE have officially banned the MDC-T’s 19th anniversary celebrations which were set for Gwanzura Stadium, Harare, this weekend citing a cholera outbreak which claimed has so far claimed the lives of 25 lives countrywide.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
This comes after the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC-T accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of running scared of citizens, hence the deployment of security forces and banning an opposition programme under the pretext of containing the deadly cholera outbreak.
MDC-T spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said police last night withdrew the permission they had earlier given for the celebrations to go ahead, claiming that this was due to the decision by government to declare the outbreak a state of emergency.
“They are running scared of our anniversary because they fear that there will be an inauguration of Nelson Chamisa as the people’s president,” he said.
Mafume said the party leadership was making consultations on the way forward.
MDC-T, Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party, was formed in September 1999 and is set to hold its 19th anniversary at the weekend, but police early this week banned all public gatherings in Harare following the declaration of a state of emergency on cholera as authorities battle to contain the outbreak.
The police had earlier cleared the rally.
Mafume said Mnangagwa’s administration had been rattled by Chamisa’s apparent popularity during a visit to the cholera-ravaged western suburbs on Wednesday.
“Between the issuing of permission (to hold the gathering) by ZRP [Zimbabwe Republic Police] and its cancellation was the evidence of tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who thronged the streets in Glen View to talk to president Chamisa.
Illegitimate governments always feel threatened by citizens and fear seeing them together,” he said in a statement.
“Scared by its illegitimacy, the Mnangagwa government then ordered the ZRP to cancel our 19th anniversary celebrations after realising that president Chamisa is pulling tens of thousands of people into the streets.
The numbers on the streets of Glen View and Budiriro, were a clear sign of things to come at Gwanzura Stadium.”
The police ban also requires churches and those planning funeral wakes to seek clearance from the Health ministry.
The MDC-T argues that the cholera outbreak was being used as a “ruse” by a “paranoid” government that only two weeks ago also forced the opposition party to suspend a rally in Kwekwe over reports of a typhoid outbreak in Gweru, about 60km away.
The High Court later ruled the ban illegal.
“The statement (by police) used cholera as an excuse, although it is clear that this epidemic is currently limited to and contained within specific areas of Harare,” Mafume said.
“These illegal attempts by ZRP to cancel events on health grounds are an excuse for Zanu PF’s downright fear of citizens.
They clearly show that Emmerson Mnangagwa knows that he lost the election and is operating this country on the basis of martial law and a perpetual state of emergency to protect himself from democracy.”
Mnangagwa won the July 30 presidential election by a margin of 50,6% against Chamisa’s 44,3%.
The Constitutional Court rejected claims of rigging by the opposition.
“ZRP has no business declaring health emergencies as this should be the preserve of health professionals and institutions,” Mafume said.