Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
POLICE yesterday turned down the MDC Alliance Bulawayo province’s intentions to hold demonstrations after the party failed to comply with the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) in its application.
The opposition party on Saturday notified the police about its latest plans to have demonstrations in Bulawayo and other provinces on Thursday and Friday.
The notification comes after police last week issued a prohibition order barring the MDC-A from demonstrating and the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court upheld the ban.
The police and the MDC Alliance met yesterday for a consultative meeting over the demonstrations.
Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said the MDC Alliance in Bulawayo province should re-apply and follow the provisions of the law.
“For Bulawayo province, where the MDC Alliance notified the provincial regulating authority, I would like to advise members of the public that the party did not comply with provisions of section 25 of POSA, chapter 11:17,” said Asst Com Nyathi.
Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act requires convenors or organisers of public gatherings to give the police at least seven days’ notice of the holding of a procession or public demonstrations and five days’ notice of the holding of a public meeting, and makes it an offence to fail to give such notice.
The party made its application on August 24 for the demonstrations set for August 29 and 30 and therefore failed to meet the seven day stipulation.
“The party, therefore, has to go back to the regulating authority with the necessary processes and they will be advised thereon,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said the police will issue responses for other provinces at the appropriate time.
On Sunday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Cain Mathema, said while people had a right to demonstrate, anyone caught transgressing will face the full wrath of the law. He said law enforcement agents are on high alert to ensure that peace prevails nationwide.
Protests planned by the party last week were blocked by the police in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Masvingo, citing fear of an outbreak of violence after the party had not put in place adequate measures to ensure peace.
Police also unearthed a plot by MDC Alliance to unleash violence in their purported “peaceful” demonstrations in Harare and other cities.
“The police seized catapults and granite stones among other weapons that the MDC Alliance wanted to use in their orgy of violence. Other opposition parties have distanced themselves from the protests.
It was also revealed that some MDC Alliance activists were going about intimidating citizens trying to force them into participating in their protests.
Business groups, especially in Bulawayo, appealed to the High Court not to allow the demonstrations to proceed as a number of them lost their properties between 14 and 16 January this year when similar protests were held.
In January, the country was plunged into chaos during violent protests that saw some people losing their lives and public infrastructure being destroyed costing the country millions of dollars. — @pamelashumba1