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Police refuse to sanction Zimbabwe Social Forum
Zimbabwe Social Forum
October 12, 2004

Zimbabwean anti-globalisation activists, social movements, NGOs, community based organisations, faith-based groups and unions opposed to neo-liberalism and corporate-led globalisation who were scheduled to hold the Second edition of the Zimbabwe Social Forum from 14 October 2004 have been barred by the Zimbabwe Republic Police from holding their meeting in the Harare Gardens.

Instead of appreciating the political significance of the event whose overall theme is a " People’s Forum Against Poverty, Gender Inequality and oppression", the Police have sought to portray the meeting as one that will cause public disorder.

In a letter signed by Chief superintended S. Pondo, Officer Commanding Harare Central District, and addressed to the Zimbabwe Social Forum, it is noted that "…The meeting is hereby not sanctioned by this office. Harare Gardens is in the Central Business District (CBD) and from information available, the public gathering will occasion public disorder and may cause damage in the CBD."

The deliberate misreading of the Social Forum and what it stands for reinforces the observation that the government of Zimbabwe uses populist rhetoric to articulate left wing demands, but has an array of draconian legislation which it has progressively deployed against pro-democracy forces, consequently causing some unprecedented shrinking of democratic space and intolerance especially of those challenging the right wing tendencies embedded in most of its economic programmes and some of its erstwhile politicians whose interests the police force are defending.

The global Social Forum process has emerged as a direct countervailing force to the elitist World Economic Forum.

The Zimbabwe Social Forum was meant to prepare for the country’s participation in the forthcoming Africa and World Social Forums scheduled to be held in December 2004 (Zambia) and January 2005 (Brazil) respectively.

The Social Forum has constantly articulated that the current globalisation process and its local manifestations, are dominated by the giant trans-national corporations from the North, and is impacting negatively on the people in Zimbabwe.

Its activists have rejected the neo-liberal paradigm and have singled out the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organisation key instruments for imposing the agenda of the governments and corporations of the North.

We therefore call on the Zimbabwean government to facilitate that the event be held in the country at a date to be announced by the organisers, and most importantly at Harare Gardens, a venue they used last year without any public disorder.

Advice offered by Police that the event be organised away from the CBD is not justified.

This is meant to take away visibility and political significance of African antiglobalisation activists who have strengthened the resistance mounted by governments from the developing world struggling against the unjust World Trade Organisations and other similarly destructive global hegemonic forces.

Meanwhile, the National Organising Committee of the Zimbabwe Social Forum has been forced to postpone the event.

Further, the Committee resolved to mount a legal challenge in order to have the meeting in Harare Gardens.

Express your solidarity with the activists in the country and proudly proclaim that !!!Another Zimbabwe is Possible!!!

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