HomeLocalBlow for Tsvangirai as court stops rally

Blow for Tsvangirai as court stops rally

Zanu PF youths sealed the area early in the morning and severely beat up anyone who walked past the open space near Rainbow Towers, the proposed venue for the rally.

Several people were injured as the Zanu PF youths attacked even passers-by while riot police watched from a distance.

Fruit and sweet vendors were caught in the crossfire and had their goods looted by the youths, some of them visibly drunk.

By 7am both police, in armoured cars, and the Zanu PF youth militia had already camped in the area.
Late in the afternoon, High Court judge Justice Chiweshe dismissed with costs an appeal by the MDC-T to have the rally held at the area now known as the Freedom Square.

Human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, who was representing MDC-T, said the judge had indicated that reasons for his ruling would be given at a later date.

A Harare magistrate, Mercy Chimbodza had on Friday upheld the decision by the police to bar the MDC-T rally, which was being held to call for an end to any form of violence.

Several MDC-T activists have been assaulted by suspected state security agents and Zanu PF militia in the past month.

The Harare Central District police had barred the rally claiming they faced operational challenges as Zanu PF was holding a similar rally 500m away from that venue.

But there was no sign of a Zanu PF meeting at the venue yesterday.

The party’s members converged at the other end of the central business district at the Zanu PF provincial offices for the launch of its anti-sanctions campaign.

Another application by the MDC-T for a rally at the Zimbabwe Grounds was turned down by the Harare South District police saying Zanu PF had booked the ground up to the end of the year.

Addressing a press conference just before the High Court judgement, MDC –T secretary-general Tendai Biti, who was hopeful that the ruling would be in his party’s favour, castigated the police for being partisan.

“It’s very unfortunate that we have the police that act as agents and vuvuzelas of a political party,” he said.

Biti said several MDC-T supporters who had come for the rally were brutalised by the Zanu PF militia while others were kidnapped.

A 62-year-old man was seen gasping for breath after he had been pursued by the marauding youths near the Glamis Arena.

The man, who said he had just arrived in the country from Canada where he is staying with his family, said he had gone to the venue to see, for the first time, Tsvangirai addressing a rally.

“Right now they are beating the young man who had accompanied me. I don’t know if he will survive,” he said. “I cried. God must accept my prayer for this nation.”

He said by preventing Tsvangirai from holding rallies, Zanu PF was actually campaigning for MDC-T.

A man employed by the Ministry of Public Works and was on his way to set the stage for the Zanu PF event said he was assaulted for walking past the Glamis Arena.

He said police told him if he had chanted a Zanu PF slogan his two assailants would not have harmed him.
Meanwhile, the smaller faction of the MDC also claimed that Zanu PF was pulling down its posters in Chitungwiza where it is holding a rally today.

“Zanu PF is pulling down rally posters with the intention of disrupting the gathering,” said Kurauone Chihwayi, the party spokesperson.

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