ZIMBABWE – POPULAR televangelist and United Family International church founder Emmanuel Makandiwa has been sucked into a row between authorities and opposition political outfit, MDC-Renewal.
The MDC-Renewal Team, fronted by former Finance Minister Tendai Biti, is locked in a bitter wrangle with the police over the holding of its inaugural congress.
The opposition party which was formed after an acrimonious split in the MDC-T had notified police that it would like to hold its indaba between the 21st and 23rd of August at Harare City Sports Centre.
The notice, as confirmed by a letter from police, was made as early as the third of August.
However police waited until this week to advise Biti and his colleagues of the unavailability of the venue.
The police indicated Makandiwa UFIC had booked the venue instead.
Your notification letter dated 3 August 2015 to hold a public political gathering on the 21st to the 23rd of August at the City Sports Centre has been noted, reads a letter signed by one Chief Superintendent N. J Saunyama the officer Commanding Harare District.
This office did not approve the event due to the fact that another event by United Family International was already booked on the same venue and dates.
However, this office can only sanction your event if you can adjust your dates or alternatively change the venue. Any inconveniences caused are greatly regretted. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
But a senior member of the opposition party who requested anonymity claimed it could have been a plot by authorities to scupper their congress.
The whole thing smacks of a sinister agenda because we notified the police on August 3rd and, at that time, Makandiwa had not booked, said the official.
It is farcical that they police have waited until the last day to tell us; they know we would not have enough time to challenge such an obnoxious decision in court.
We checked with Harare City Council but suddenly they claim he booked before us. We smell a rat but that will not dissuade us. We are ready to wait for our chance.
An unimpressed Renewal spokesperson Jacob Mafume confirmed the development and indicated his party would likely move its congress to next month.
Our executive will meet tomorrow (Friday) and make a decision on how to move forward, he said.
However the preliminary discussions that we have held thus far have shown we could move the dates. The congress will likely now be held in the first week of September.
This is because we have been advised that the City Sports Centre and its environs as usual will be booked for the Harare Agricultural Show.