MDC-T officials and supporters yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting organised by the Intercessors for Zimbabwe at Civic
Grounds in Harare.
Some of the party officials, who included councillors and some youths, arrived at the grounds in buses and cars while singing political songs.
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was expected to attend the prayer meeting. Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka, said his boss wanted to be at the prayer meeting, but failed to attend because he was travelling.
“He knew about the prayer meeting and he expressed an interest to attend if he was not travelling,” he said.
“The Prime Minister would have attended and he attends any gathering that has to do with peace.”
Organisers of the meeting were told to disperse by the police around 1pm after it had become clear that the conditions were no longer conducive for a prayer meeting.
According to police, IFZ did not point out that the PM was going to address them and that it was not a “political meeting” when it applied for clearance to hold the meeting.
IFZ also wanted to hold a musical concert after the meeting which was scheduled to end at 6pm, a fact they did not mention to the police.
The organisers later negotiated with the police and were granted almost an hour to wind up business.
Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau confirmed that some of the people came to the prayer meeting singing political songs.
“I am not aware that the Prime Minister was going to address the meeting, but all I can say is that we told them to finish early because of some reasons,” Insp
He said when the organisers applied to the police, they never said that they were going to hold a gospel musical concert after they finished their meeting.
“They were making arrangements to call musicians for a concert after the church service,” said Insp Sabau.
“And our other worry was that when they came, they were singing political songs, while we expected them to hold a prayer meeting.”
Insp Sabau said when the organisers applied to hold the meeting at the open space, they said they were going to provide mobile toilets but did not do so.
“We were surprised that there was not even a single toilet when people were going to be kept up until 1800hrs and what were they going to do?” he said.
“So, we ordered them to finish at 1:30pm and they agreed.”
Insp Sabau said when the Independence Day Gala was held at the same venue recently, there were mobile toilets.
IFZ national co-odinator Reverend John Chimbambo yesterday confirmed that they did not provide mobile toilets at the venue.
“We were supposed to finish at 6pm, but we agreed with the police and finished at 2pm,” he said.
Rev Chimbambo said he was not aware that the Prime Minister was going to address them.
“I didn’t know that he was coming, but he didn’t come,” he said.
“People didn’t come as we expected. They were very few. I don’t know of other centres.”
On Thursday, Rev Chimbambo issued a statement saying: “The National Day of Prayer is non-partisan or a political event which strictly observes the tenancy for a divinely driven nation where every Zimbabwean despite their political affiliation are afforded an opportunity to come together and pray for their nation.
“No political statements will be given by whatsoever person despite their political affiliation. The meeting is going to be addressed by pastors only.”
The prayer meeting was part of the Africa Day celebrations observed by Zimbabweans yesterday.
Africa Day is commemorated annually on May 25 to celebrate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity on the same date in 1963.
The OAU has since transformed into the African Union. Africa Day is observed as a public holiday in only four African countries — Ghana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
But celebrations are held in some African countries as well as by Africans in the Diaspora.