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How will Zimbabwe's opposition navigate ban on public gatherings?


Plans by Zimbabwe’s main opposition party to conduct a mock inauguration ceremony for its candidate Nelson Chamisa on Saturday may be affected by Wednesday’s ban on all public gatherings in the capital Harare.

Government, which declared a cholera emergency on Tuesday, says it has issued the ban to control the spread of cholera, which has so far killed 21 people.

The Minister of Health Obadiah Moyo told a meeting of government departments dealing with the outbreak that more than 3,000 people had been infected by cholera and the disease had now spread outside the capital.

Chamisa’s controversial plans

Chamisa, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has argued that he was cheated of victory by the electoral board, and has rejected last month’s constitutional court ruling that declared Mnangagwa winner of the presidential vote in July.

His party was planning to install him as the people’s president on Saturday as it celebrates its 19th anniversary at the Gwanzura Stadium in Harare.

While government had warned against conducting the mock inauguration, which they say would be seen as an attempt to undermine government’s legitimacy, the opposition was adamant that it would be held within legal limits.

“We will do everything that resembles an inauguration but everything will be within the law,” Chamisa’s spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda said on Tuesday, adding that the MDC was still discussing how the event would be conducted.

ALSO READ: Africa’s ‘People’s Presidents’: Chamisa to join Odinga, Besigye?

Police to implement ban

In a statement, the national police spokeswoman Charity Charamba urged members of the public to take heed of the ban as it would assist in alleviating the spread of cholera, but did not say how long the ban would last.

While the opposition is yet to respond to news of the ban, Chamisa visited clinics where cholera patients were being treated earlier on Wednesday and called for collaboration between city health officials and the government.

This is the biggest cholera outbreak since 2008 when 4,000 people died and more than 40,000 were treated for this disease, according to ministry of health data.

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