PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa allowed Tuesday’s massive opposition demonstration in Harare and blocked a planned counter march by his own Zanu PF party, a spokesman has claimed.
The MDC Alliance staged the biggest demonstration seen in the capital since last November’s ouster of then president Robert Mugabe.
The former Zanu PF strongman routinely refused to allow opposition demonstration and, when defied, used brute force to crush them.
However, successor Mnangagwa is taking a different approach.
According to spokesman George Charamba, the Zanu PF leader advised to security services to allow Tuesday’s opposition march.
“His Excellency the President underlined to security structures that Section 59 of the Constitution which allows the right to demonstrate must be respected and that its provision in the supreme law of the country guarantees a right whose enjoyment cannot be optional except in terms provided for under the same Constitution,” Charamba told the State-owned Herald newspaper.
“To that end, he impressed on the security structures that in the absence of any real good reasons that would justify abridgement of that right to demonstrate, the request by the opposition should be honoured.”
The ruling Zanu PF party had also moved to stage a Mnangagwa solidarity on the same day as the opposition demonstration.
However, the president apparently vetoed the plan.
“The President communicated to the leadership of the party that the party could not raise demonstrations on the same day and in the same space already secured by the opposition as to do that would raise the risk of inter-party clashes, thereby undermining the overarching goal of ensuring a peaceful, violence-free poll,” explained Charamba.
“The President said if the party (Zanu PF) wanted to mount a demonstration it had to do it either before the opposition one or after it in terms of the same section of the Constitution.
“He stressed the importance of peace, peace, peace. Order, order and respect for persons and property.”