Police ban #beatthepot women's demo

BULAWAYO - Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has filed an urgent application at the High Court here seeking to overturn a police ban of a planned demonstration by its Women’s Assembly on Saturday.

Housewives had planned to take to banging their cookware in a symbol of opposition to President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

The demonstration was slated for July 16 and comes amid unprecedented opposition to Mugabe’s rule and growing uncertainty over how much longer he can remain in power.

Police on Tuesday declined to sanction the protest, arguing that “the situation on the ground is volatile following violent protest and looting we recently experienced as a result of a demonstration which occurred on July 6.”

The police claim they saw cars being stoned, shops vandalised and looted, and claimed they were still seized with the challenges of bringing all the culprits to book, adding that there was no security guarantee as most officers have been consumed by the cases.

In an application filed yesterday by MDC Bulawayo Women Assembly organising secretary Florence Nyika, she cited officer commanding Bulawayo Central Stephen Mutamba, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo as respondents.

In her founding affidavit, Nyika said the police had no legal basis to ban their peaceful demonstration as it was their constitutional right under Section 59 of the Zimbabwe Constitution adopted in 2013.

“In purporting to disallow the intended march, the police seemingly suffer from the misconception that Public order and Security Act clothes the force with such powers,” Nyika said.

“Police could be sincere in holding this view, only that they are sincerely wrong as the Act simply requires one to give notice of the procession or public demonstration in writing which is precisely what I have done.”

Nyika said it was also wrong for the law enforcers to turn their demo down on the basis that the recent protests were violent as there was no link between the MDC and organisers of the shut down protests.

She further argued that for instance, the three demonstrations recently conducted by the Tsvangirai-led party in Bulawayo, Mutare and Harare were all peaceful, “proving that on a balance of probabilities, the march would be peaceful.”

Nyika said the intended march was a women’s initiative in light of the hunger and poverty being felt by women in the society.

The demonstrations, going under the hashtag #beatthepot, was poised to see all participating women bringing empty pots and cooking sticks.

The banging of empty pots, a highly-gendered image associated with women’s role as mothers, threatens to become the symbol of women’s opposition to the government and a key means to protest it.

Organisers had planned to take the protests countrywide to demonstrate their opposition to the government. When they march, they said, and beat their empty pots, it will symbolise the government’s failure: it could not provide them with the food they needed to feed their families.

Organisers said the sound of women beating pots and pans was expected to fill the air in the coming weeks.

“We intend to hold similar marches throughout the country for as long as the government is not showing commitment and sincerity to address hunger and poverty affecting women,” Nyika said.

She, however, prayed for the courts to interdict the police from interfering with the planned demonstrations.

Comments (4)

Aaaaaaa....

Dakarai - 14 July 2016

Is it a case of different interpretation of the Act or a complete ignorance of the ZRP, this keeps on taking the same course and 1 would think they learned from previous mistakes, but alas! The courts should now order ZRP to pay for the costs incurred in such stupid lawsuits

Ziggy Zigawo - 14 July 2016

gvt must adress their petition

vivian - 14 July 2016

With all this nonsense from the police, lets go international. Let us appeal to all airport workers worldwide to refuse to offer services to Mugabe's plane wherever he goes. This will teach him a lesson and keep him grounded at home.

MR COOPER - 14 July 2016

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