By Blessed Mhlanga
Opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday declared war against the police, warning that his party was now itching to fight back and even defy their prohibition orders which he said were unjust, partisan and unreasonable.
This came after police on the 11th hour on Tuesday barred his public address titled Agenda 2020, which was supposed to be delivered in Mbare yesterday.
“Enough is enough. We have exhausted all channels and we can’t continue to be victims of unjust application of the law. Rights are for all. On Tuesday January 21, we will deliver the people’s Agenda 20 to the nation, come what may,” Chamisa said on his social media platform.
The MDC leader is under immense pressure from the party’s restive youth, who feel that his push for dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and respect for draconian laws will not deliver the opposition any political gains.
The youth and other members of Chamisa’s national standing committee were angry after the MDC postponed yesterday’s event, saying it showed they were giving in to a dictatorship without a fight.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said in the face of provocation by the police, his boss remained a democrat who has displayed respect for human life and the rule of law, which has turned into the rule by law.
“The Zimbabwe government has banned the MDC by putting in place and enforcing unconstitutional regulations and laws that prevent the MDC president from addressing any public meetings,” Sibanda said.
“The president and the party feel that it is improper and it sets a bad precedent and threatens democracy to allow the few to stop us from exercising our constitutional rights. We will look the beast in the eye and demand what is rightfully the people’s rights. The time has come.”
Highly-placed MDC sources told NewsDay that at its meeting at the party headquarters, Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House, the Harare provincial council called on Chamisa to stop retreating in the face of aggression by government.
“They are failing to handle the machete gangs, but they bring their full force on a democratic meeting. The time for running has come to an end,” a senior MDC official said.
In anticipation of an MDC defiance of the ban, police dispatched the anti-riot unit in the central business district early in the morning and along all major roads leading to Mbare.
They used hailers to warn people against taking part in the MDC-organised meeting, which had already been postponed a day before.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the law enforcement agents were just maintaining law and order in terms of the Constitution and would not stop executing their mandate.
“As for the alleged ban on the MDC activity, they should know that in terms of MOPA (Maintenance of Peace and Order Act), they should engage the regulating authority. If they have any queries and if any disagreements arise, the remedies are provided for in terms of the law,” he said. NewsDay