MDC protesters seek Con-Court referral

HARARE - Seven MDC activists accused of obstructing or endangering free movement of people and traffic yesterday said they wanted their matter referred to the Constitutional Court.

The MDC youths said they had a constitutional right to demonstrate. They said this after they appeared in court for their initial remand hearing.

The accused are MDC MP for Harare Metropolitan, Ronia Bunjira, Danmore Tshuma, Keith Charumbira, Bridget Nyandoro, Stanley Manyenga, Stewart Gwebe, and Linnete Chibinya.

Through their lawyer, Obey Shava, the group told the court they were assaulted while in police custody.

Shava told Harare magistrate Douglas Chikwekwe that they intend to make a constitutional application.

“The constitutional challenge will be premised upon the provisions of Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for the right to demonstrate and petition,” Shava said.

He said the incarceration of his clients was in violation of their constitutional right to demonstrate.

Shava said it was imperative for the court to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court for the determination of the issues that he raised.

Shava proceeded to make a bail application for his clients, after the State opposed the request. The group was arrested on Monday, after staging a demonstration in Harare’s central business district.

“There are no compelling reasons for this court to deprive the accused persons of their individual liberty,” he said.

According to prosecutor Babra Ndoro, a group of about 40 MDC activists obstructed free movement of people and traffic as they demonstrated, waving placards.

Ndoro alleges that the MDC supporters gathered at Harvest House, the MDC’s headquarters in central Harare, with an intention of staging a demonstration.

According to State papers, the placards were written “We demand our jobs now”; “We want our jobs now” and “Release our leader”.

The court heard the group marched from Harvest House, and went around Harare’s CBD, before they were stopped by police officers at the intersection of Jason Moyo and Julius Nyerere Street.

The State claims the group hurled stones at the police, leading to one of the police officers sustaining several injuries.

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