Police invoke strict COVID-19 rules for MRP rally

Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) logo

POLICE in Bulawayo have cleared a rally organised by secessionist Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) at Nketa Hall on very strict conditions, which the party has since contested. 

The party is expecting to hold a campaign rally at Nketa Hall on April 1 ahead of the harmonised elections to be held in August this year.

MRP sought clearance from Nkulumane district police to hold the rally on March 10, from 9am to 5pm at Nketa Hall.

A response to the MRP notification letter dated March 22, signed by officer commanding Nkulumane district, one C Kapita, cleared the rally but stipulated strict conditions.

“You are being advised to abide by the country's regulations in light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic as outlined in the provided Statutory Instrument(s). These include: Wearing of masks, maintenance of social distance, adhering to the required number of attendees at gatherings, etc,” Kapita said.

“No derogatory or inflammatory statements will be made at the meeting or precincts, or during the procession or demonstration. Toyi-toying before, during and after the meeting will not be allowed,” he said.

Police also warned MRP members not to interfere with the work of its officers on duty, as well as not to carry weapons.

Kapita said his office reserved the right in terms of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Mopa) [Chapter 11:23] to immediately stop the meeting in the event that it degenerates into public disorder.

MRP president Mqondisi Moyo described the conditions as dubious and unclear.

He said the manner in which his party was being treated was unfair because the ruling Zanu PF party had been conducting its public events unhindered, with some of its members even turning violent.

“We have seen Zanu PF having a lot of gatherings with huge numbers where its supporters don’t wear face masks and do not really adhere to any of the COVID-19 regulations. Therefore, we will not follow such a condition during our rally,” Moyo said.

He said MRP would relate with the police officers on duty depending on how they treat party members during the rally.

“In 2018, on July 25 the police came to us armed to the teeth with their anti-riot unit accompanied by water tanker trucks to disrupt our meeting that was given proper and documented clearance. Therefore, we will not sit back and let them disrupt our meeting that has been granted clearance,” Moyo said.

On the ban of toyi-toying and inflammatory statements, Moyo said the party would not stop making efforts to address issues affecting it.

“As MRP we have always voiced our concerns that we are being abused by Shona people, and we will also continue to make it known that we want our own country. We will continue to sing our songs that resonate with our struggles under the Shona-dominated system. This is not being tribal,” he said.

Moyo said the country’s laws were repressive and questioned why 4ED groupings were allowed to do their activities unhindered.

“We have never seen the police descending on them using Mopa. As MRP, we will not be stopped by the police working under the Zanu PF party. We are a peace-loving party that does not engage in any form of violence unprovoked,” he added.

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