The cancellation of the event came as a surprise since the organisation had fulfilled all other obligations to carry out the event as prescribed by the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa) as well as other unwritten provisions from various quarters, including the District Administrator’s office.
The person at the centre of these latest attempts to stifle civic activity in the province is the district police head for Masvingo East region which covers Gutu, Zaka and Bikita districts in Masvingo province. The officer is fond of calling himself the regulating authority for Masvingo East. In his view, civic organisations such as the Youth Forum do not have a mandate to carry out civic education efforts such as the current campaign.
He demanded a meeting with the Youth Forum at his office at Bikita Training Centre on March 28. The organisation was represented by its political and programmes leadership that included Madock Chivasa, the chairperson, Wellington Zindove, the national coordinator as well as Terence Chimhavi, the senior programmes officer.
He then went on to falsely claim that civic education could not be done through road-shows and, as a result, he was not comfortable with the Youth Forum meeting the community to impart this kind of information.
However, this is not true as the organisation has full registration with the Zimbabwe Youth Council and is mandated according to the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act to impart civic education of this nature.
This is also against the background that the Youth Forum has been doing this kind of civic education, which it views as an integral part of making young people part of the development agenda in Zimbabwe.
The banning of the Gutu road-show comes hot on the heels of another banning of a similar event by police in Masvingo city. The Youth Forum is dismayed by this brazen show of partisan policing by the police. As the country totters on under the authority of the inclusive government, there are clear signs that democratic reforms will not see the light of day.
While many of our parliamentarians see the need to amend Posa, there are some in the corridors of power who are hell-bent on seeing this fail. And it is through such political activists like the Masvingo senior police officer who is openly manipulating the law for political gain that we continue to see an authoritarian hand in the work of the inclusive government.
Youth Forum Information and Publicity Department