HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has no one but himself to blame when police refuse to clear his demonstrations because his party gives the law enforcement agency short notice, a senior government official has said.
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo was responding to MDC senators Misheck Marava (Zaka) and Morgen Komichi (Harare) who wanted to know why their party always encountered obstacles each time they want to hold peaceful demonstrations.
Citing the upcoming May 25, Zanu PF youth league “million-man march” that has since been given the green light by police, Chombo advised the opposition to take a cue from his Zanu PF party.
“It is also done in order to avoid double booking where two groups book the same venue. Groups like the million-man march, which will be held next week, also have to make a booking and they have already done so and permission was granted. They always have to do it in advance. If people do it in advance, it usually works out very well,” Chombo said.
The MDC officials had noted with concern that each time they applied, they always end up at the High Court, seeking redress after being blocked by police.
But Chombo expressed surprise that the MDC was asking such a question when the party has been in government previously where at one point they controlled the Home Affairs ministry with Theresa Makone as its head.
“The most important issue is that some of our colleagues from MDC, whether it is T, N or whatever MDC or even Zimbabwe People First, for that matter, it is important that you seek clearance in due time for you to be granted permission in due time,” Chombo explained.
He added that if the police are not given ample time to consider a notice for a demonstration or march, they reserve the right to refuse permission.
Chombo cited the example of Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira whose request to march in celebration of the recent launch of the Nssa Building Society was turned down as it was out of time and had the potential to disturb the flow of traffic.
“There is a tendency that occurs especially amongst seniors in the MDC-T in that they wait until the end of day around 3.45pm and they end up saying they have not been cleared. Why not do it in due time? … Komichi, on the other hand, is trying to say that I allow Zanu PF to conduct its processes and do not clear the MDC, but the point is, even Zanu PF’s, … Mupfumira was denied clearance. So, I want to advise … Komichi that he should give himself 10 days in planning his demonstrations so that there is enough time”.
Responding to Marava’s question on whether notifying the police the notification was meant to apply for permission or just to let the police know, Chombo said demonstrators needed the protection of law enforcement agents.