Graham Nyahada, the MDC-T provincial spokesman, said the atmosphere was quite “exciting” as people awaited the arrival of their party leader. Nyahada confirmed the heavy presence of soldiers and policefrom the support unit.
“They are stationed at Marondera Central Police Station and more arrived Friday. They have been going around the neighbourhoods singing in their trucks but the people here are adamant that they will not be cowed,” said Nyahada.
It also emerged on Saturday that Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial executive formally complained to the police over Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) posters plastered in and around the town advertising Tsvangirai’s rally dubbed the “MDC Real Change Peace Rally” in Marondera.
Tsvangirai, the MDC-T leader, is expected to address the rally, according to a statement from the party’s information and publicity department.
Party officials said the heavy presence of uniformed soldiers and riot police was intended to intimidate residents from attending the rally.
The officials added that the high military and police presence in the small town of Marondera started being noticed on Friday evening, alleging that Zanu-PF feared a huge turnout.
The same officials said the Rudhaka Stadium peace rally, with nine similar ones having taken place in other provinces, would afford Tsvangirai an opportunity to report back to the people of Mashonaland East and the nation on the progress being made in the inclusive government and challenges faced.
“He will also address the election roadmap as a prerequisite to the holding of a free, fair and credible election as well speak on and denounce the disturbing violence that has resurged in the country,” read part of a statement issued by the MDC-T’s information and publicity department.
The MDC National Executive this week condemned in the strongest terms, the continued state sponsored violence that has taken place in most societies of the country.
In particular, the National Executive Committee noted that the funding and use of violence by Chipangano, a terrorist group in Mbare, Harare, has to stop, and the thugs arrested if peace is to be achieved.
“The MDC urges the Police to act professionally and fulfill their constitutional mandate of protecting the citizens of the country. Its the hope of the MDC that the heavy presence of the police is not meant to intimidate the law abiding citizens but should act as a deterrent to Zanu-PF’s hooliganism as the party has shown discontent at the holding of the peace rally by the MDC,” said MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora.
On Wednesday, Zanu-PF representatives in Marondera town reported to the police that they felt offended by MDC posters that had been pasted in and around the city.
“The people of Zimbabwe deserve peace, true national healing and an immediate stop to the persecution of democratic forces and the harassment of innocent citizens of Zimbabwe. The people’s struggle for real change: Let’s finish it,” read part of the posters.