Harare (New Ziana) – The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Monday it had secured police clearance for a public meeting in Harare that had earlier been banned.
Tuesday’s meeting in Mbare, where MDC leader leader Nelson Chamisa plans to give a so-called ‘address to the nation’, had been outlawed by police, citing lack of manpower.
But police may also have feared violence as has often accompanied the party’s public gatherings in recent years.
MDC leaders regularly use inflammatory language at such meetings, inciting supporters to run amok.
In 2018 and last year, for example, the party’s street matches produced orgies of violence in which scores of people died, and property looted and destroyed.
But party deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said on Monday police had issued clearance for the meeting in which Chamisa intends to mimic a head of state with an ‘address to the nation.’
“Everyone is free to attend the event and the police have since officially notified the party that the bumper event can go ahead without state inhibition,” he said.
He said the MDC will unveil its “Agenda 2020 in which the MDC will spell out to Zimbabweans and the world the party’s programme of action for the year.”
After the meeting’s initial ban, Chamisa – who is still smarting from his defeat by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the 2018 presidential election – had vowed to press ahead ‘come what may’, a move seen as a ploy to goad the police into a confrontation to blemish the country’s image on the eve of key international meetings.
“Enough is enough. We have exhausted all channels. We can’t continue to be victims of unjust application of the rule of law. Rights are for all,” he vowed in a Twitter post.
“On Tuesday 21st January we will deliver the people’s agenda 2020 to the nation come what may.”
Chamisa’s Tuesday ‘address to the nation’ coincides with the start of the Britain-Africa business meeting in London, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland.
Often in the past, the MDC has timed its street matches whenever key global meetings are taking place, a ploy meant to draw international attention to the country, and win support and sympathy.
Last year’s violent street matches, which resulted in eight deaths, coincided with the WEF where President Mnangagwa was due to attend.
He canceled his attendance over the violence.
Observers have noted Chamisa, after snubbing post-election platforms that were created to allow all parties and leaders to contribute to national affairs, was also desperate for public limelight, even within his party.
A confrontation with police would give him this, and was craved, however brief it could be.