Police pour dirty water on Chamisa ‘inauguration’

Police seek to block opposition leader Nelson Chamisa's mock inauguration on Saturday

THE police say they will not allow any public gatherings in Harare following an outbreak of cholera in the capital, throwing into doubt a major opposition rally planned for Saturday, where Nelson Chamisa was to be installed as the ‘people’s president.’

The opposition plan has been widely interpreted as the inauguration of Chamisa, who disputes his July 30 election loss to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, amid fears the move could inflame tensions and trigger violence.

Chamisa told supporters at a weekend rally that: “The leadership is saying that the person who was voted for by the people should be inaugurated by the people.”

But the opposition leader appeared to back off, telling NewsDay a day after the Chitungwiza rally that the people had already installed him on July 30.

The opposition plans have drawn a menacing response from government, with Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi telling the Daily News Chamisa risked arrest if he went ahead with the mock inauguration.

“It’s a serious breach of the law. He will be arrested for that,” Ziyambi said.

On Wednesday, police cited a cholera outbreak which has killed 20 people and the government’s declaration of an emergency, as reasons for imposing a ban on public gatherings.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police wishes to inform members of the public that in light of the declaration of the state of emergency, the police in Harare will not allow any public gatherings,” the police said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear what the MDC Alliance’s next step would be.

Earlier this month, police in Kwekwe banned a Chamisa rally in Kwekwe, citing a typhoid outbreak in the Midlands province.

The opposition, however, successfully challenged the ban in court, although the ruling was only made after the rally was called off.