HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s main opposition party went to court Saturday to challenge a police decision to ban a political rally it wants to hold in the buildup to what will be highly scrutinized elections next month. The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party has been told it cannot hold the gathering in the
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s main opposition party went to court Saturday to challenge a police decision to ban a political rally it wants to hold in the buildup to what will be highly scrutinized elections next month.
The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party has been told it cannot hold the gathering in the town of Bindura north of the capital, Harare, on Sunday. The venue is unsuitable as it is a “bushy area” without “serviceable roads,” according to the police order.
The CCC says the ban is another example of how President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is suppressing and stifling opposition ahead of elections on Aug. 23.
The southern African nation has a history of violent and disputed elections, including five years ago when Mnangagwa won a close vote after replacing Robert Mugabe as president in a coup.
The High Court in Harare was hearing the CCC’s challenge to the ban on its rally on Saturday. The opposition party would decide on the “way forward” after the court gave a ruling, said spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere.
The CCC and independent rights groups have accused Mnangagwa’s government of tamping down the opposition by arresting their officials and supporters and banning their meetings in the runup to the vote, while ruling party supporters have also used violence to intimidate opposition supporters.
CCC leader Nelson Chamisa narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in the 2018 presidential election and had his claim of vote-rigging dismissed by the Constitutional Court.
The 80-year-old Mnangagwa promised a new era of democracy after the coup that overthrew long-ruling autocrat Mugabe, but critics say Mnangagwa is as repressive as his predecessor.
A tense political atmosphere, exacerbated by an economic crisis in the country, has led to fears of more violence around next month’s elections.
The election will decide the presidency but also the composition of the 350-seat Parliament and nearly 2,000 local government positions.
A former ruling party stalwart who was exiled following the 2017 coup that brought Mnangagwa to power is also among the 11 candidates aiming to stand for president. Saviour Kasukuwere has promised to return to Zimbabwe to campaign but authorities say he faces arrest for alleged past crimes.
AP Africa news: https://apnews.com/hub/africa
Farai Mutsaka, The Associated Press