THE MDC-T has taken Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to court challenging the police’s decision to bar its planned demonstration in Bulawayo.
The demonstration had been set for May 28 starting at the Bulawayo City Hall car park at 10AM and ending at King Lobengula’s Kraal along Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue at 2PM.
The MDC-T, through its lawyers TJ Mabhikwa and Partners, yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order interdicting the police from interfering with its planned protest.
In his founding affidavit, James Sithole, the party’s organising secretary for Bulawayo province, claimed that the planned protest dubbed, “March against poverty and corruption”, sought to bring to the fore the MDC-T’s position on the declining socio-economic and political conditions in the country through a “peaceful demonstration.”
“Top of the priority of the issues of the planned peaceful protest is the rampant and alarming levels of corruption wherein $15 billon reportedly mysteriously went missing from the government coffers, escalating poverty, acute cash shortages and poor service delivery among other pressing issues while the government is seemingly taking a lackadaisical approach in tackling these issues,” said Sithole.
They also harassed Harare City Council workers prompting police to warn the opposition party’s leaders that they would not be allowed to infringe on the rights of innocent citizens.
During the protest, a Choppies Supermarket security guard was hospitalised after sustaining serious injuries at the hands of the marauding MDC-T supporters who ran amok in the wake of an address by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai promoting lawlessness.
The party claimed in court papers that it had invested vast amounts of money, time and other resources in preparation for the planned demonstration in Bulawayo.
Sithole said his party informed the police of the planned demonstration but they did not sanction it.
“The reasons for not sanctioning the peaceful demonstration were primarily that police had serious reservations due to the fact that a similar demonstration that we conducted on April 14, 2016 in Harare was not peaceful. They further said the economic environment was not conducive for a political demonstration of any form amid fears that it could be infiltrated by bad elements hence they could not guarantee the security of participants,” he said.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba recently said the rowdy behaviour exhibited by some MDC-T supporters was the reason why sometimes they were reluctant to clear such gatherings.
The opposition party argued that police had no legal basis to bar its supporters from staging a demonstration. chronicle