BY SILAS NKALA
THE opposition MDC Alliance has bemoaned the selective law application of the law following the arrest of three youth assembly members last week while they were conducting a door-to-door voter registration campaign in Pumula suburb, Bulawayo.
MDC Alliance Bulawayo spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza yesterday told Southern Eye that the arrest of his party youth, Calvin Moyo, Phumzile Moyo and Thandiwe Mpofu, while they were encouraging citizens in Pumula to register to vote shows that only those from Zanu PF are free to do voter campaign activities in the country.
The Nelson Chamisa-led opposition is currently targeting to mobilise six million new voters, including in the rural areas, as the country begins to prepare for the 2023 general elections.
Chirowodza said the arrests were unfair as the ruling Zanu PF party was currently also conducting its own voter registration campaign activities across the country.
Following their arrest, the MDC Alliance youth were made to pay a $500 admission of guilt fine, and were released thereafter.
“When it became clear that three people could not constitute a gathering, the police changed their charge to ‘unnecessary movement’. The police then changed the charges again to ‘improperly wearing of masks’. This is the hazard that MDC Alliance youths face while doing voter campaign activities,” Chirowodza said.
“Zanu PF government’s monopoly on COVID-19 statistics is now being abused for partisan purposes. These statistics of infections are used to enact lockdowns, which citizens in particular MDC Alliance members must abide to, but Zanu PF is not asked to abide with them as its leaders continue violating the rules at will,” he said.
Chirowodza said while the arrests of MDC Alliance youth was on June 25 in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo addressed a meeting attended by many people on June 29, but was not arrested.
Moyo, who is also Umguza legislator (Zanu PF), reportedly conducted a public meeting in his constituency on Tuesday at which participants were seen not practising social distancing while he addressed the gathering at a time when public gatherings have been banned due to COVID-19 regulations.
“We suspect that the current lockdown rules have more to do with curtailing our voter registration drive than stemming the coronavirus,” Chirowodza said.
The Matabeleland North Provincial minister was not reachable for comment on the issue.
But Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said his party position was that everyone should abide by the World Health Organisation COVID-19 protocols.
He said everyone, including Zanu PF, members were subject to law enforcement when they violated COVID-19 protocols.
“No one is exempted whatsoever. Police are mandated to apprehend those who break the law. We have rightly stated the recent arrest of over 20 Zanu PF supporters in Bulawayo for not respecting such protocols and guidelines. No one is above the law,” Moyo said.