Demo ban: Judgment deferred

HARARE - High Court judge Priscillah Chigumba yesterday deferred the urgent chamber application filed by 18 opposition political parties — that are challenging the police ban on demonstrations in Harare — to Wednesday.

Opposition political parties, uniting under the banner National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), dragged police to court last week contesting the two-week ban on demonstrations.

Tendai Biti, who is representing the applicants — Nera, the Democratic Restoration Assembly (Dare), Harare resident Stendrick Zvorwadza and the Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra), told the Daily News that High Court judge Chigumba said the “matter raises serious constitutional concerns so she wants the parties to fully ventilate the issues”.

“We expect to argue the matter on Wednesday (tomorrow) morning.”

The former finance minister said he was not concerned about the postponement of the matter, saying it was expected in such high-profile cases.

“Some of my clients want to demonstrate on Friday . . . it’s not a set back at all. Courts operate like this. Courts know that whatever judgment they give will set precedence, so this is normal.”

Officer commanding police Harare Central district Newbert Saunyama, Commissioner-General of police Augustine Chihuri, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney-General of Zimbabwe Prince Machaya are cited as respondents.

In the court application, Zvorwadza said the ban is a serious infringement of citizens’ constitutional rights as defined in Section 59, Section 58 (1), Section 61, Section 62, and Section 67 (2) of the Constitution.

“The instant application, is one that seeks to set aside every nullity of S.I (Statutory Instrument) 101A of 2016 on the basis that its enactment procedurally was in breach of the Constitution as well as the Posa (Public Order and Security Act) itself and that in substance, its enactment infringes on certain constitutional rights...,” Zvorwadza said.

He said the government’s decision is not justifiable in a democratic society, which is based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom.

“The regulations, amount to a backdoor amendment of the Constitution or an imposition of the state of emergency,” he said.

“Our preparations for our march next week are already at an advanced stage and . . . we are in the process of printing T-shirts and banners to facilitate this march,” he said.

He said before they had an opportunity to notify Chihuri of their intention, they were surprised to be advised that demonstrations had been temporarily banned.

He further said that Parliament did not delegate its powers of law-making or gazetting statutory instruments to Chihuri.

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