'Police ordered to observe Constitution'

HARARE - High Court judge Hlekani Mwayera ordered police to observe the Constitution and international law when dealing with the people’s right to demonstrate, MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora (pictured) said.

Mwonzora said this while addressing journalists soon after the hearing of an urgent chamber application filed by National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) — a grouping of 13 opposition political parties — that sought clearance to proceed with the protest which took place yesterday.

“...one more important thing that the judge emphasised is that the police of Zimbabwe have been enjoined to follow the Constitution and international law,” he said.

“We view this as victory for democracy, the demonstration is going ahead. We know that the police have already tear-gassed the venue. We have conversed with police representatives that the police are to clear the venue and the demonstration is to proceed,” Mwonzora said yesterday.

Nera — through its lawyer Marufu Mandevere from Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners — approached the High Court, seeking an order allowing the protest, after the police had refused to clear the demonstration and further tried to block it.

However, soon after the court hearing, Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru’s spokesperson Gift Nyandoro said the police conceded to their demands in court.

“…they failed dismally to oppose to the extent that they conceded that they had not banned the demonstration. Aluta Continua, the spirit goes on until Zimbabwe is set free again,” he said.

In the application, Nera cited officer commanding police Harare, commissioner-general of police Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo as respondents.

According to Joelson Mugari, Nera’s organising committee chairman, it is a right of every citizen to demonstrate peacefully.

“On August 12, 2016 applicants (Nera) notified the 1st respondent (officer commanding police Harare) of the scheduled demonstration as required by law.”

“Despite the notification and several follow-ups on a daily basis, the police only served the applicants with their response today (Thursday) the 25th of August 2016.

“The response is dated August 15, 2016 but the police waited to serve the letter on the last minute,” reads part of the court papers.

He said the police discouraged the march.

“In particular, the 1st respondent stated that his office discouraged the applicant’s intended march on the basis that the number of intended participants cannot be accommodated in the Central Business District as it would interrupt the smooth flow of both human and vehicular traffic.

“The 1st respondent further stated that he encouraged the applicant to engage Zimbabwe Electoral Commission instead of engaging in street demonstrations.”

“I must also point out that the ruling party Zanu PF has recently held its own one million-man march in support of its own political activities without being “discouraged” by the 1st respondent,” he said.

Comments (1)

Nothing is new with the Zanu gang refusing popular demonstrations. They refused the MDC the right take control of government when it won elections several times, using thugs in uniform. Nothing is strange here and we cannot expect a change of heart soon. What this group wants is force by the people agitating for a complete overhaul unrelentingly. Fear among the long suffering people is diminishing quickly and these fat guys are aware and scared. It's just a matter of time.

Dr. Dete - 28 August 2016

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