POLICE yesterday arrested a Citizens for Coalition Change (CCC) activist who was moving around town clad in the opposition party’s colours chanting anti-Government slogans before attempting to deface the statue of the revered First Chimurenga icon Mbuya Nehanda.
Godfrey Chidhau Kanembera is facing disorderly charges after he went on a campaign frenzy in the capital clad in CCC regalia chanting derogatory utterances against authorities without police clearance.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police had to step in after Kanembera tried to deface the statue of Mbuya Nehanda, which is protected under the country’s laws.
“He came from Mbuya Nehanda Street drawing public attention as he chanted the CCC slogans then he went to Mbuya Nehanda statue along Samora Machel Avenue where he confronted the police. He wanted to deface the statue and the police had to call back-up from the public order section to help in arresting him,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
The country is due to have by-elections on March 26 and the environment has largely been peaceful, except for isolated cases where the CCC has taken matters into its hands, through holding unsanctioned rallies.
Such behaviour, Asst Comm Nyathi said, is outlawed in the country’s laws as it endangers public peace.
“We don’t expect people to go around town chanting party slogans without clearance from the police.
“It is unfortunate when the police tried to stop him he denigrated them, he was violent and police had to use minimum force to subdue him.
“Of course, we are investigating claims that he was beaten,” he said.
The police called on political parties to exercise restraint during the campaigning period and adhere to the country’s laws.
Recently, Asst Comm Paul Nyathi gave details on procedures to be followed when political parties seek the green light to hold rallies.
“It is the responsibility of a convener to notify the local regulating authority who is the Officer Commanding a Police District, of the intention to hold a rally in line with provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA), Chapter 11:23.
“It is not just a case of notification, the convener has a responsibility to discuss and agree on the security and safety measures to be availed at the rally for the benefit of the public and the community in general,” said Ass Comm Nyathi.
He said it was sad and a cause for concern that some political parties are being confrontational when notifying authorities on their intended rallies.
Asst Comm Nyathi said they are also concerned that some rally conveners and their legal advisors are communicating wrong information to their supporters and using social media to communicate details with the Police without exhausting all the legal remedies provided for under the MOPA Chapter 11:23.