This comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government are facing renewed pressure from both locals and the international community to respect the country’s Constitution and allow peaceful gatherings and protests.
But a few days after riot police savaged MDC supporters in Harare on Wednesday, the government said yesterday that it would not hesitate to arrest Chamisa if he ever held meetings that were not sanctioned by jittery authorities.
This is despite Mnangagwa’s recent signing into law of the new Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Mopa) – which replaced the repressive Public Order Security Act (Posa) which was routinely used by the government to thwart both opposition and pro-democracy groups from holdings mass demonstrations.
“Under the new Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, you can’t do a demonstration without notifying the regulatory authority, and if they do that then they can be arrested.
“If Chamisa carries on with what he said he can be arrested. He is out of order … you can’t do that and endanger other people who are doing their business,” Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told the Daily News yesterday.
The minister was responding to threats by Chamisa to hold public meetings without notifying police, after all his recent requests for such permission were declined by the authorities
Ziyambi added that Chamisa would also be held to account for any damage and destruction resulting from unsanctioned demonstrations and other gatherings organised by his party.
“The reason that you notify the police is so that they can clear it, if it is safe … to do a demonstration. You can’t also have a demonstration the same day that there is a programme that clashes with your demonstration,” he said further.
Since August 16 this year, when police banned MDC protests in Harare, all attempts by Chamisa to be allowed to hold rallies or public meetings have been met with resistance by the police.
Ziyambi said the reasons for banning MDC public meetings were not based on political instruction since the law “allows the convener and police to discuss the reasons for banning a demonstration”.