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.
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.