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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • State warns MDC against lawlessness
    The Herald (Zimbabwe)
    March 13, 2007

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    THE Government has warned the MDC against engaging in violent activities, saying it will not fold its arms and watch the opposition unleash lawlessness.

    Minister of Home Affairs Cde Kembo Mohadi said it was the duty of the regulating authority (police) in a given area to impose a ban on all politically-related demonstrations and rallies if they had reasonable grounds to suspect the gatherings might disturb peace.

    The minister said this at a Press conference last night flanked by his deputy Cde Obert Matshalaga and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri.

    The regulatory authorities -- who are Officers Commanding Districts -- have the power to issue the ban without consulting the police commissioner or even the minister.

    The powers are given to them under Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act.

    But if those whose activities are banned have a grievance, they can appeal to the minister who could vary, uphold or set aside such an order.

    Cde Mohadi said following the ban on rallies in Harare and Chitungwiza by police last month, the MDC appealed to him on March 8, 2007 through their lawyers.

    He said he responded to them and set March 17 as the date on which he would consider their appeal.

    But POSA clearly stated that noting an appeal did not suspend the order of a regulatory authority, the minister said.
    "This order was still standing and they decided to go ahead and convene the meeting disregarding the standing order given," said Cde Mohadi.

    Cde Mohadi said last weekend's planned gathering was not a prayer meeting as the opposition had claimed under the so-called Save Zimbabwe Campaign co-ordinated by the MDC's purported Democratic Resistance Committees (DRC) and other anti-Government civic organisations.

    "It was not a prayer meeting because there are flyers which said it was an MDC defiance campaign and they were coercing people to attend the rally," said Cde Mohadi.

    "As police, we could not just stand by and see the country go on fire. So we deployed and managed to quell the disturbances. The leaders of the opposition (Morgan) Tsvangirai and (Arthur) Mutambara were actually commanding (hooligans) using children as shields.

    The flyers read: "Save Zimbabwe Rally. MDC Defiance Campaign. MDC joins other democratic forces under the auspices of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign for the rally to be held on 11 March 2007 at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, starting at 10am. 'It is defiance or death'."

    Spokesperson of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign Jacob Mafume told reporters at a Press conference yesterday that they would continue to defy the law.

    "We are not going to stop," he said.

    But Cde Mohadi said they were just provoking a situation whose consequences they would regret.

    "We are not going to be found wanting. We will enforce the law to its fullest. We expect people to adhere to the law."

    He dismissed claims that police were in defiance of any court order, saying no member of the police force was served with the High Court order giving the green-light for the MDC to hold a rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield two weeks ago.

    He said the arrested persons were in custody pending finalisation of investigations.

    The minister took a swipe at Commonwealth Secretary General Mr Don McKinnon, saying he had no right to comment about Zimbabwe as it had long ceased to be a member of the grouping of mostly former British colonies.

    "What has he got to do with Zimbabwe? We are not a member of the Commonwealth. We long moved out of the Commonwealth. We are not interfering with the Commonwealth."

    Mr McKinnon was quoted on the BBC saying they had tried everything on Zimbabwe and did not know whether they should send a batallion.

    The Herald is reliably informed that late yesterday afternoon the ambassadors of Germany, Britain and Sweden came unannounced to see Cde Chihuri at Police General Headquarters. They were turned away because they did not notify the police of their visit and were not even accompanied by an officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as per diplomatic procedures.

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