Police clarify holding of political rallies under MOPA

By Justin Mahlahla

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has issued a statement clarifying the requisite security arrangements and the holding of political rallies in view of the current campaigns by parties and aspiring candidates for the scheduled by-elections set for March 26, 2022.

In a statement, police national spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the convener has the responsibility to notify the local regulating authority, who is the Officer Commanding a Police District, of the intention to hold a rally in line with provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA), Chapter 11:23.

“It is not just a case of notification, the convener has a responsibility to discuss and agree on the security and safety measures to be availed at the rally for the benefit of the public and the community in general.”

He however noted that some political parties are adopting a confrontational approach when notifying the regulating authorities on their intended rallies.

“We are also concerned that some of the conveners and their legal advisors are resorting to communicating wrong information to their supporters and also using social media to post communication details with the Police without exhausting all the legal remedies provided for under the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA), Chapter 11:23.”

He cited the case of the failed rally which was planned by the Citizen Coalition for Change for Marondera at the weekend.

“In the case of Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC)’s Marondera rally it is clear that the convener had not complied with relevant provisions of MOPA and was duly advised by the regulating authority, however the convener and their lawyers insisted that the rally will go ahead while at the same time a court process was in motion at the High Court and subsequently at the local Magistrate Court after Justice Mungwari had ruled that the CCC convener had to exhaust all the domestic legal remedies provided under MOPA before holding a rally. This is on record.

“However, on the ground, the convener had already mobilized CCC supporters to gather without sanctioning and conclusion of the court proceedings. The Police has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that all the country’s laws are observed and complied with. In this case the rally could not be sanctioned without the due processes being followed,” explained Ass-Comm. Nyathi.

He said: “It is sad that some political parties are resorting to acts which clearly show that they are not observing law and are acting as a law onto themselves. The Zimbabwe Republic Police will not compromise on security and safety of the public and expect political party conveners to lead by example and avoid misleading the public.”

Assistant Commissioner Nyathi warned that anyone holding or hosting car rallies will be arrested without fear or favour, with 26 suspects having been arrested recently in Harare and Masvingo for holding car rallies while in the process blocking traffic, interfering with the smooth movement of the traffic and chanting slogans which include obscene language.

Said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi: “The Zimbabwe Republic Police will not hesitate to name and shame politicians who are clearly contravening the law. Political parties are warned against disrespecting the Police, acting as if there are no laws to be observed in the country or untouchable institutions and entities. The Zimbabwe Republic Police is ready to ensure that the forthcoming Bye-elections are held in a peaceful environment. Therefore, any form of lawlessness by individuals, groups or political parties will not be tolerated. The law will be applied without fear or favour.”