Civic society organisations and opposition political parties have expressed concern over the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s decision to bar political parties from holding rallies and demonstrations in the run up to the harmonised elections.

The MDC Alliance was barred from conducting vigils at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) offices in Harare and the riot police officers sealed off the electoral body’s headquarters on the day in question. In Bulawayo on Wednesday riot police blocked the entrance to the Large City Hall the venue for the MRP indaba which the police had previously cleared.

The developments came soon after President Emmerson Mnangagwa threatened to arrest MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa if he continued to incite public unrest.

Critics have said recent police actions show that former President Robert Mugabe’s style of governance was still in place.

Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said Zanu PF will never change. He said the new freedoms given to political parties after the coup were meant to hoodwink people into believing the ruling party had turned over a new leaf.

“Zimbabweans must not be misled by these criminals, a leopard will never change its colour. Anyone who wants freedom, democracy, and economic revival must ensure he votes them out,” Fuzwayo said.

#This Constitution leader, Abigail Mupambi said, it was clear Mugabe the person is gone, but Mugabe the system still exists through Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“This issue of having our constitutional rights and freedoms given via the police is unheard of. Police are clearly under capture, democracy is under siege at this point particularly when we are facing such critical polls,” Mupambi said.

“It has to be noted that we exist with our rights we do not need to seek anyone’s consent to enjoy our constitutionally given freedoms.”

Mupambi said this is why in 2013 people endorsed a new Constitution which threw the Public Order and Security Act and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in the dust bin.

Co-MDC Alliance spokesperson for Bulawayo, Edwin Ndlovu said it was unfortunate that the police were going back to its old tricks of banning rallies.

“We as MDC Alliance want to warn them to stop getting instructions from the Mnangagwa junta government. The police force is for all Zimbabweans not for a political party. We as the alliance shall continue with our programmes regardless of their stance. Behold, the time is nigh. No amount of sabotage shall stop the people’s project. Come July 30 [Nelson] Chamisa is going straight to State House,” Ndlovu said.

People’s Rainbow Coalition spokesperson, Fortune Mlalazi said the police should not infringe on citizens’ constitutional rights which include freedom of expression and association.

“There is an election and people must be allowed to express themselves in all manner that is peaceful be it a public rally or demonstration,” he said. “They must also know that these are guided in the Southern African Development Community guidelines on elections.”

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