Anti-riot police clad in full gear yesterday stopped a Habakkuk Trust Youth Indaba at Montgomery lodge citing that the organization had not notified the relevant authority about the meeting despite the fact it was held with the organization’s structures.
The indaba was an interface between the youth from various districts and stakeholders such as the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation to deliberate on developmental issues. The youths were from areas that include Gwanda, Umzingwane, Bubi, Nkayi, Matobo and Insiza and they shared experiences while various departments in the Ministry responding with opportunities to empower the youth and encourage active participation in community development.
A few minutes into the meeting, a security agent in plain clothes came to the venue and requested information about the organization including the programme for the event. He raised concerns that the nearby police station had not received notification of the meeting and therefore declined to stay upon request from the Habakkuk Trust Programs Manager. A few hours later, four anti-riot police were standing by the entrance while a truck load of about 10 – 15 were positioned at the gate ready to storm in.
The Chief Inspector, a Sibanda from Sauerstown Police Station ordered the meeting to stop and participants to disperse immediately citing that the organization was conducting an unsanctioned meeting. Stakeholders and participants left in a haste in fear of the perceived brutal consequences of the order. Participants were visibly shaken as the police were heavily armed with rifles, tear gas canisters, button sticks and shields. This incidence comes shortly after the police descended with brutal force on protesters Harare last week.
The meeting had about 50 participants including the Ministry, Sports and Recreation Commission, Jairos Jiri, National Arts Council, National Gallery of Bulawayo, Sports department, Vocational Training Department and empowerment department within the Ministry.
The discourteous reaction could have been sparked by threats of demonstrations circulating on social media which saw heavy police deployment in the Central Business District.
Source: Habakkuk Trust