By Zvamaida Murwira
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is an independent arm of the State which exercised its discretion upon assessing the security situation in the country before it issued a prohibition order against the MDC-Alliance’s intended demonstration last week, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said the police’s decision barring the planned demonstration was subjected to a legal test when the MDC-Alliance challenged it in the High Court, but failed to have the prohibition order nullified.
Minister Moyo said this yesterday while responding to questions from journalists during a post-Cabinet briefing which was held in Harare yesterday.
He had been asked to comment on a statement issued by some European Union countries condemning the police action during an attempt by supporters of the MDC-Alliance to stage an illegal demonstration in Harare.
“To try and bring the issue of the police reaction is not fair. The police is an independent organ of the State, which makes its own assessment and which deals with the situation as they assess and they made a legal position and they presented it.
“It was challenged and unfortunately the challenge was not successful, but thereafter they proceeded with the demonstration which was fundamentally an illegal demonstration in terms of the law,” said Minister Moyo.
“Whether the police used excessive force or not, we will always desire as Government, that police use commensurate force when responding to demonstrations. It is a subjective matter to say at what point. When the protesters wanted to enter Munhumutapa here, what would have police done except to throw smoke. We must be clear about the circumstances.”
On whether the concerns raised by the EU countries would not further strain relations and affect re-engagement efforts, Minister Moyo said Government had resolved to move on with or without sanctions.
“Re-engagement is a process, it is not an event. It takes two, one thing this dispensation and this Government has decided is that we must move on with or without sanctions because we believe that sanctions are now outdated. Sanctions are outdated and they must go. Sadc has said that as well as the African Union,” said Minister Moyo.
Some MDC-Alliance supporters clashed with the police last Friday in central Harare after they tried to defy a prohibition order barring them from conducting a demonstration.
The prohibition order was subsequently upheld by the High Court after the MDC-Alliance sought to challenge its validity.