Zimbabwe police have placed a three-month ban on political rallies and protests in the capital, Harare. This follows what police called anarchy and looting during a recent opposition protest march, which saw scores of arrests. The police say the ban is necessary to keep law and order, but the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the Harare government is in a state of panic. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa says the party views the ban as a state of emergency and an attack on the MDC.
“We definitely see this as a state of emergency, which has been imposed on the nation. We also see this as an attempt to illegally ban the MDC. We are aware that ZANU-PF is a bit jittery. The Mugabe dictatorship is afraid of the momentum and also the activities of the MDC because they thought that they could divide the MDC. But the MDC has emerged stronger and the MDC hurricane is unstoppable,” he said.
Chamisa attributes current tensions in the country to politics.
“Certainly, this is a political problem. It is not just an issue of the police. It is the total breakdown of law emanating from the political tension in the country, and the political crisis in the country. What we need to do is to have a holistic and encompassing approach that is a political solution. And until and unless we have that political solution, we are going to have the impasse continuing unabated,” Chamisa noted.
He said the government is using the police to fight its wars.
“In fact we take note of the abuse of our police as an auxiliary force by the regime. There is no way the police should be used to fight ZANU-PF wars. We take this very seriously,” he said.
Chamisa accused the government of trying to thwart activities of the opposition party.
“What they are trying to do is like suffocating us. We will not be allowed to be suffocated. We want life for our party. We want health for our party because it is good for a new Zimbabwe. It’s good for a new constitution that we are fighting for. It’s good for a new dispensation we are fighting for,” he said.
Chamisa denied that the police ban is necessary to keep law and order.
“I can assure you that what they are actually doing is even worsening the situation. We are in a totalitarian state, we are in a police state and by making sure that they eliminate all forms of legitimate expression of the people, they are simply fertilizing and catalyzing an underground kind of movement, which is going to be dangerous for our country,” Chamisa said.
He reiterated the troubles ahead if government keeps oppressing the people.
“It’s going to be free for all and the center would not hold. And nobody will be answering to anybody. This is what we in the MDC want to avoid. Because what we want is to pursue a democratic path, which has nothing to do with violence,” Chamisa said.