Mutsekwa told the Zimbabwe Independent that his ministry was not banning public protests but was appealing to Zimbabweans to demonstrate peacefully during that period.
However, sources in the Criminal Investigations Department confirmed that they had received a circular stating that demonstrations have been banned until after the World Cup in South Africa.
“Yes, we did receive such a circular and as far as we are concerned no demonstrations would be permitted until after the World Cup,” said the official.
Asked to explain why an instruction had been issued to the police to ban public protests, Mutsekwa said he was going to look into the issue
as that goes against government policy.
“There is no way this government and myself would make an attempt to ban people’s freedoms. As the inclusive government we promote people’s liberties and we would not be involved in infringing those rights,” he said.
“There is no banning of demonstrations. We made a promise to South Africa that we are going to come up with strategies of helping it stage a peaceful event. To that extent, what we intend to do is to make an appeal to the Zimbabwe population. If they want to engage in demonstrations, they should be peaceful.”
This is in contrast to his statement to our sister publication, the Standard, when he said the ban on demonstrations was part of efforts to rebrand the country’s image after almost a decade of chaos.
He was quoted saying: “That is true (banning of protests)…it’s an arrangement to present Zimbabwe and the region as a whole as a safe destination. It’s also a strategy to rebrand the country’s image.”
The MDC-T has condemned the decision to ban public demonstrations until after the World Cup.
“The decision is not only a violation of the people’s basic rights but a confirmation that we have indisputably become a banana republic which is afraid of the people’s constitutional right to express themselves,” said the MDC.
“The freedoms of expression, movement and association are never threats to any government but provide an opportunity for the people to peacefully express themselves. Freedoms are never a liability but an asset in a true democracy.”
The MDC called on the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs to reverse their decision.
“Dictatorships are averse to the people’s rights to express themselves and this decision will seriously dent the credibility and image of the inclusive government,” it said.
lMeanwhile, the MDC-T has condemned the appointment of former Media and Information Commission chairperson Tafataona Mahoso as head of the recently appointed Zimbabwe Media Commission secretariat, describing him as a “decorated media hangman” who has no place in a reform agenda.
“His (Mahoso) tenure as the chairperson of the now defunct Media and Information Commission is littered with graves of independent newspapers and radio stations. His legacy as a proponent of a shackled media industry speaks for itself. Zimbabweans urgently deserve media reform in fulfilment of the provisions of the Global Political Agreement and the national aspiration to democratise our national space,” it said.
During his tenure as chairperson of MIC, Mahoso closed several newspapers.