Govt Bans Opposition March, Cites Security Reasons

Harare – HOME Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo says the government won’t tolerate any attempt to undermine peace in an apparent threat against a huge march by opposition parties on Friday.

“We will not tolerate any attempts by any group of persons, political parties, civic organisations or individuals whose actions will undermine the peace and quiet that Zimbabwe enjoys today,” Chombo said on state ZBC TV’s main evening news bulletin.

Harare’s High Court will hear an application on Friday morning for the march – which is calling for electoral reform – to be allowed to go ahead after police said they discouraged it.

But even if the court doesn’t rule in favour of the march, it will still go ahead, Movement for Democratic Change Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora said. He said up to 150 000 people could attend.

“We are going ahead with it on the basis that it was not expressly prohibited (by the police). It was simply discouraged,” Mwonzora told News24 on Thursday evening.

The march has been called for by an umbrella group of 18 opposition parties, the National Electoral Reform Agenda. It has the backing of civic rights groups like ThisFlag and Tajamuka.

Tensions are running high in Harare after a protest march by MDC youths on Wednesday was broken up by riot police, triggering violent protests that saw vehicles burnt and shops looted.

On Thursday Chombo, who was flanked by Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi, claimed the violence was premeditated.

“Those that organised it will be made to account,” he said. Opposition officials have suggested the violence could have been instigated by state agents.