Harare - Zimbabwe police on Wednesday said bungled
communication led to armed riot police blocking a rally by Prime Minister
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told AFP "there
was communication break-down" between the police and Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change.
"The notice to hold the meeting was given through the
minister to the commissioner general instead of the officer commanding the
"That issue has been rectified."
Riot police blocked an address on Tuesday by Tsvangirai whose
uneasy unity rule with President Robert Mugabe is set to end with a fresh vote
"Riot police have just disrupted a community meeting I
was due to address," Tsvangirai tweeted on Tuesday night. "Their
actions today show that the leopard has not changed colours."
A pick-up truck loaded with helmet-clad police officers
carrying riot shields and batons could be seen in pictures posted on
Tsvangirai's Facebook page.
Charamba said according to the Public Order and Security Act
anyone who wants to hold public meetings must notify the police who can decide
whether the meeting can go ahead.
Tsvangirai's meeting was set to start at 18:00 in the
capital on Tuesday, but around 20 riot police ordered people to leave the
meeting before it had started.
Zimbabwe's security forces are seen as loyal to Mugabe who
shares power with Tsvangirai in an uneasy unity government that was uneasily
formed after chaotic polls in 2008.
Zimbabweans will vote on March 16 in a draft referendum
which is set to pave the way for fairer elections.
Fresh polls are set for July to steer Zimbabwe onto a new
track after a series of votes were marred by violence, intimidation and
The run-up to the polls has been marked by a crackdown
against political activists, media and civil society groups.
Mugabe, who turned 89 on February 21 has ruled the southern
African nation since independence in 1980.
The former rivals set up a unity government in early 2009
after the violent polls of the previous year tipped the country into crisis.