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Five Things That Blocked MDC Bulawayo Demo

By Munashe Chokodza

On Monday 19 August 2019 MDC which is arguably the biggest opposition party in the country by both membership and representation in Parliament had planned to hold their second episode of a series of demonstrations in Bulawayo but the demo was called off in a similar manner to the one in Harare.

According to MDC, the demos are meant to register displeasure on the state of affairs in the country fronted by cash challenges, high cost of goods and services, unemployment, unavailability of reliable power among many others.

Besides registering displeasure the demos are also being used as a way of exerting pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to dialogue with MDC president Nelson Chamisa.

Below are some of the things that resulted in the abortion of the demo in Bulawayo:

1) Police Prohibition Order

The Zimbabwe Republic Police issued a Prohibition Order in terms of Section 26 (9) of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), [Chapter 11:17]. This they say was decided after extensive consultations with convener and other stakeholders who included the business community in Bulawayo.

2) Heavy police and soldiers presence

The government deployed a huge number of soldiers and police onto the streets of Bulawayo on Monday especially in the Central Business District to enforce a predicted demo ban.

Army trucks and helicopters spend the greater part of Monday patrolling the streets of Bulawayo both on the ground with trucks and foot soldiers as well as in the air with helicopters.

The police also barricaded MDC offices in Bulawayo preventing both officials and party members from entering the premises.

3) The arrest of party leadership and jailing of Chief Ndiweni

The arrest of MDC national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo and other party’s provincial executives while mobilising for the demo was a seen as a potential threat that could ignite violent activities during the demo together with some disturbances that occurred when the courts jailed “fans favourite” Chief Ndiweni a few days ago.

 

4) Lack of proper communication

MDC was found wanting in terms of their communication with regards to information on the demo especially when people who were expected to lead from the front had been arrested and this resulted in some people choosing to stay home as they were in the dark on whether or not it was proceeding.

5) Court upholding Prohibition Order

Bulawayo Magistrate Tinashe Tashaya upheld the Police Prohibition Order arguing that there was a likelihood of violence and destruction of property taking place similar to the January protests if the MDC was allowed to proceed with the demonstration.

Tashaya noted that although citizens have a constitutional right to stage demonstrations, the same rights had limitations in the interest of public safety, defence, public morality and health, hence the demo was blocked.

 

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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