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Magistrate Bars Rallies By Zimbabwe Opposition Party In Rural District

A magistrate in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, has barred the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai from holding a series of rallies in Manyame Rural District saying the party had failed to pay to use public venues.

Magistrate Michelle Gudo ruled Oct. 13 that the MDC must pay requisite fees before carrying out any party activities at council grounds.

The party had scheduled rallies in eight wards of Manyame Rural District between Oct. 14 and Oct. 21 after getting police clearance.

The party is now moving to challenge the magistrate's ruling, saying that it infringes freedom of association among other rights.

The party's director of elections for Chitungwiza province, Bothwell Chisvo, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the ruling ZANU-PF is holding its rallies in the area without paying any fees - while the local council refused to accept fees from the opposition saying there was no legal basis for payments.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 from Zimbabwe...