Zimbabwe?s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will today (Thursday) apply for another protest march permit to press home its displeasure with what it described as President Robert Mugabe?s autocratic rule. The party said the protest marches are also aimed at demanding the implementation of a new constitution, ahead of this year?s general elections. The MDC said the elections should be delayed because Zimbabweans are not yet ready for them. The protests come after the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-backed talks reached a deadlock.

The talks between the government and the MDC are aimed at resolving the country?s economic and political crisis.

John Makumbe is a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that he expects the court to grant the MDC the petition to protest.

?The latest development is that the disruption by the police were really minimal so that the rally was actually held, and Tsavangirai (MDC Leader) addressed thousands of people who turned up. And he is going to apply for another permit today so that he can have another march most likely next week and really create a situation where the regime is forced to pay attention to the hardships that the people are experiencing,? Makumbe said.         

He dismissed as laughable government?s reason that it bans protest marches because they often turn violent.

?It?s ridiculous really because the people were marching peacefully, and there was no violence until the police were trying to stop them from marching. And they were telling them to walk only to the stadium where the court has said the MDC could hold political a rally. But the people were saying we are walking to the grounds, and the police were saying you are marching and it is really unlikely that there would be violence. Violence would always be provoked in most cases in Zimbabwe by the police themselves,? he pointed out.

Makumbe said he believes the court would grant the opposition the permit to ago ahead with their planned protest march.         

?I think so yes, I think the experience of today is such that people were peaceful and they did what the court ordered them to do. They walked to the grounds and they held a rally, which was addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai and so the next application should really be granted by the court. In any case, the court should only intervene if there is a dispute between the police and organizers of the rally,? Makumbe said.

He said countries in the sub-region are taking note of the activities in Zimbabwe.

?The SADC is watching everything that is happening in Zimbabwe today. The news bulleting from other SADC countries are full of stories of this afternoon in Harare, and yes the SADC would be forced to pay attention to these peaceful marches to the desires of Zimbabweans, to the demand of the opposition political parties, to the demands of the citizens of Zimbabwe for the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe. Yes, SADC is going to pay attention, ? he noted.