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'Zimbabwe Mass Protest Going Ahead Despite COVID-19, Zanu PF Threats'


FILE: Zimbabwean riot police block a road ahead of a planned protest in Harare, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Organizers of a protest scheduled for July 31st say they are going ahead with the public march despite government concerns that it may cause a spike in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe where over 1,000 people who have already tested positive for the disease.

One of the organizers of the protest, Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of the opposition Transform Zimbabwe, told reporters on Thursday that they have informed the police about the planned protest against corruption and other issues.

“We have informed the Zimbabwe Republic Police about our intentions on July 31 as per the provisions of MOPA (Maintenance of Peace and Order Act). We are following the law and that’s exactly what we have done. We know that there is COVID-19 among us and we are saying corruption is just like COVID-19.”

Section 7 of the law stipulates the timelines within which a convener of public meetings, public demonstrations and processions has to give notice to the regulating authority before a proposed date of a public meeting, demonstration or procession.

Section 3 of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act designates a police officer commanding a certain district as the regulating authority of that district and spells out procedures the conveners of gatherings or demonstrations have to follow when applying to the regulating authority.

Another organizer of the event, Charles Nyoni of Occupy Africa Unity Square, led by Itai Dzamara, who went missing a couple of years ago, said they are ready for the protest.

“We have no option because corruption is causing havoc in this country like COVID-19. So, the protest is on and we will do what we can to make it work.”

But Zanu PF stalwarts Patrick Chinamasa and Victor Matemadanda have warned protesters that the ruling party will take stern measures against protesters.

Information deputy director, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, also told VOA Studio 7 that “we won’t allow people to engage in such gatherings when the country is fighting against COVID-19.”

He said Zanu PF members will be waiting for the protesters in the streets.

Several people were shot dead in 2018 and 2019 by state security forces during public protest, a move that was condemned by the international community.

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