POLICE have claimed that the country was under threat of terror attacks, hence, a decision to ban demonstrations and political rallies to ensure terrorists do not take advantage of the volatile situation to create anarchy.
After banning demonstrations in Harare last week, police now say they fear a full-scale war could break out in the country due to messages circulating on social media and could not allow political rallies in other urban centres in light of the threats.
“Serious threats have been received from various pressure groups through social media inciting people to declare a full war in Zimbabwe starting on September 2, to destroy all police properties, to destroy all roadblocks with fire, to blow up allgovernment vehicles and buildings, attack all members of the prison services and release all prisoners in jail, seize Zimbabwe Revenue Authority by force, shut down all major shops until government changes, prevent all airlines from landing and taking off, allow bus operators to operate at their risk and to blow up all Zupco buses and ambulances,” the police wrote in a letter banning the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s first anniversary rally.
PDP had notified the police of its intention to hold a rally to mark its first anniversary, but the police said they could not allow it, as they were stretched in trying to prevent full-scale war and terror.
We do not take these threats lightly and we have remained on high alert since September 1, a situation that has strained our resource utilisation,” officer commanding Bulawayo West district police, Chief Superintendent Mthokozisi Manzini Moyo, wrote to the party in a letter yesterday.
“We advise that your intended event be delayed up to such a time when security threats levels reduce to normal. In this regard, I invoke the provisions of section 26(9) of the Public Order and Security Act Chapter 11:17.”
He said information reaching his office indicated that the opposition party’s planned event might be compromised.
PDP’s anniversary rally was scheduled for White City in Bulawayo on Sunday, but has become the latest casualty of the prohibitions.
The police claimed the ban follows reports of terrorism threats circulated on social media platforms.
PDP Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Edwin Ndlovu, described the ban as ridiculous.
“It is very ridiculous for the police to act in the manner they have acted. Ours is just an anniversary celebration, which has nothing to do with the said allegations,” he said.
“All these accusations do not hold water and are ridiculous, to say the least. We are appealing against this unilateralism. For the avoidance of doubt, our celebrations are going ahead, whichever way, come Sunday. Zimbabwe is not a police State and we frown at this behaviour by the police.”
PDP said its legal team was preparing a court challenge to the ban, which comes a few days after police in Harare prohibited protest marches in the central business district until September 16 under Statutory Instrument 101a. The provision is currently being challenged at the High Court, with PDP leader, Tendai Biti representing the applicants.