Disputing charges by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party that it has systematically been denied meeting permits, the Zimbabwe Republic Police head said Wednesday it had approved most requests.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said his force approved 644 out of 682 requests by the MDC formation, or 94 percent, while the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe had an approval rate of 97 percent. Chihuri said in a few instances approval was withheld when MDC meetings coincided with national events.
The former opposition MDC has accused the police of being biased in the meeting approvals process and in responding to incidents of violence against its members.
Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that contrary to Chihuri’s report, 75 percent of party applications have been denied.
"The statement is a clear negation of facts," Chamisa said. "The police chief has in the past openly shown that he is a partisan public officer" stating loyalties to ZANU-PF.
"The MDC stands by its position that the police have been denying the party [permission] to hold its meetings and rallies across the country in clear defiance of the Public Order and Security Act," Chamisa declared. The act, known as POSA, says organizations are only required to give police notification when a public meeting or rally is planned.
"Only two weeks ago, the MDC was at the courts appealing against a police decision in Harare to deny the party from holding a people's peace rally at Zimbabwe Grounds and Glamis Arena. The peace rally has been canceled three times consecutively," he said.
Authorities told the MCC that ZANU-PF had booked the two venues. The Harare City Council even issued an affidavit dismissing these claims, the MDC says.