The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has rejected allegations of unfairness in implementing provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA).
Police have been accused of being unfair towards opposition parties and civic society organisations (CSOs) by banning their planned events on the pretext that they failed to meet certain provisions of MOPA.
On several occasions, police have blocked opposition CCC rallies and planned protests by CSOs but ZANU PF events have never been disrupted.
ZRP spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told NewsDay that some of the reasons opposition rallies and protests by CSOs are blocked include their failure to employ marshals and to stick to scheduled times which threatens peace and public order. He said:
There is a difference between notifying and working on the security modalities with the police if you are to go by MOPA.
There are certain parameters which conveners of meetings, public gatherings and demonstrations have to comply with on their part.
Merely notifying does not mean that a person has fulfilled all the conditions that are outlined under MOPA.
The public must be adequately advised on the security measures they have put in place when they want to do some of these gatherings in consideration of the rights of others.
It is not just a matter of notifying and ending there. There are security considerations that have to be made by the conveners.
When they go to the police and are told that they have not met these security considerations, they start complaining.
Last week, police invoked MOPA to block a CCC by-election victory celebration in Glen Norah and also banned an event that had been scheduled for 22 July by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC).
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said it is not true that the party does not adhere to the requirements of MOPA. She added:
Rather, when we do invoke the provisions of this statute, we are met with flimsy reasons for the banning of our rallies such as the fact that there isn’t enough manpower or misrepresentations, and that someone else is using our chosen venue when this is not true.
What is beyond doubt is that the playing field is not free and fair, but that will not stop us from escalating our nationwide mass mobilisation programmes.