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  • Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Index of articles

  • Police lift ban on rallies and demonstrations in Harare
    Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
    June 27, 2007

    View original banning orders

    The Movement for Democratic Change on Wednesday said it received communication from the police advising them that a ban on rallies and meetings, imposed in Harare last week, has now been lifted. On Friday Chief Superintendent Isaac Tawengwa who commands Harare Central, announced an extension of the initial ban by a further month. Rallies, demonstrations and political gatherings in the Harare Central District were banned from the 24th June to 23rd July. The government made use of the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Armed riot police travelling in two armoured cars delivered a copy of that notice to the MDC Harvest House headquarters last week. On Wednesday the police made a U-turn. Nelson Chamisa, a spokesperson for the Tsvangirai MDC, says it was always going to be hard for the government to sustain their arguments for the ban and the MDC is not surprised it has been lifted. He said since the enactment of POSA in 2002, Zanu PF has held 1 211 rallies nationwide without any due notice to the police. The MDC meanwhile has given notice to hold 2,342 rallies but only 276 have been allowed to proceed.

    The MDC issued statements saying the ban was an assault on the people's basic freedoms of movement, association and assembly. 'Due to the closure of the private media, alternative methods of communication and repressive legislation, rallies are the only remaining platform for the MDC to interact with its members,' the party argued. They also said the ban violated the spirit of current negotiations between Zanu PF and the MDC that are being brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki. Concerns were expressed about the possibility of a free and fair election in light of these actions and analysts say pressure from the South African government might have been key in reversing the ban. Chamisa said the lifting of the ban was immaterial, because they were prepared to ignore it anyway and hold their rallies. Over the weekend the party held rallies in Chinhoyi, Kwekwe and Gokwe. Chamisa said their supporters made it clear they want a new people driven constitution before elections in 2008. Asked what they were telling their supporters to do in regard to the voter registration exercise being conducted by government, he said it was important for people to register in order to build up their collective voice. Despite acknowledging the Registrar General was a stooge of the regime and assigned to rig elections it was still important to have as many voters on the roll as possible.

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