Police officers on Saturday ordered members of the ZPRA Veterans Association to take off their yellow T-shirts branded with their name and logo.
The war veterans had planned to march from Masotsha Avenue and end at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo statue to commemorate the legacy of the late nationalist and former Vice President who died on 1 July 1999.
The former freedom fighters were stopped by police at Third Avenue and Joshua Mqabuko allegedly because they were conducting an illegal demonstration.
The police claimed their activity was politically motivated and influenced by a certain political party, which also features the yellow colour.
ZPRA Veterans Association Secretary-General, Petros Sibanda, told police that the yellow colour had always been their branding since ZAPU’s inception in 1961.
Sibanda added the Officer Commanding Bulawayo District (the Dispol) had granted them permission to march.
However, police officers on the ground ordered all of them to remove their yellow t-shirts and stop the march.
ZPRA Veterans Association Spokesperson, Buster Magwizi, said the step taken by the police was ‘grossly unfair’. He said:
I am not a coward but we obey the law as Zimbabweans but as ZPRA veterans we no longer have any rights, which have been taken away from us.
The right to demonstrate is a right but here we were not demonstrating but commemorating the day our Commander in Chief passed on.
I sympathise with you a lot because we no longer have freedom in this country anymore if we were ordered to remove our t-shirts and likened to a political party.
We are not a political party and we wore this so that we can be identified in the melee of things. Now how can we do so when we don’t have our own insignia.
It’s very bad in any case, we die the moment we stop talking about things that concern ourselves. If you are not aware you will not be able to do anything else.
Magwizi told CITE that after the event, police revealed that they were also instructed to make sure the veterans removed their yellow t-shirts as that colour was associated with the opposition CCC.