MP barred from wearing flag-coloured jacket

HARARE - The High Court has dismissed Mutasa Central MDC MP Trevor Saruwaka’s application challenging his ejectment from the National Assembly last October for wearing a jacket with the country’s flag colours.

In the application, Saruwaka cited speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and the chief security officer of the Parliament of Zimbabwe as respondents.

According to a ruling handed down by High Court judge Jester Charewa on behalf of Justice Lavender Makoni yesterday, the matter was dismissed with costs.

Saruwaka, who approached the High Court after the incident that created commotion in the National Assembly, had argued that his ejectment for wearing the jacket was unlawful and an infringement on his right to freedom of conscience and religion.

He further said there was no provision in the Standing Rules and Orders of the National Assembly that barred him from wearing such colours.

In the application, Saruwaka, who was represented by Kudzai Kadzere from Kadzere, Hungwe & Mandevere Legal Practitioners said he is an avowed follower of the Rastafari religion, adding that the colours on his jacket were synonymous with his religion.

“…it is respectfully submitted that, applicant being of the Rastafari religion has a right to freedom of conscience and religion in terms of Section 60 of the Constitution which right includes the right to propagate his religious beliefs whether in private or in public within the confines of the law.”

He further argued that he is entitled to the protection of the law.

“It is further submitted that, respondents do not have the power to determine the colour of the jacket applicant wears. The respondents are therefore acting outside the scope of their powers by ejecting applicant from National Assembly sessions on account of wearing the jacket in question,” he said.

He also said that according to the provisions of Standing Order 76 (7), only jeans, T-shirts and sleeveless outfits, are prohibited from the National Assembly.

Saruwaka’s National Assembly “drama” took place after Mudenda ruled in June last year that national flag would not be allowed in the House, following a plethora of protests against President Robert Mugabe’s rule using the national flag.

Several MDC parliamentarians including Saruwaka had entered the House with national flags draped on their necks.

The national flag became a protest symbol after it was popularised by cleric Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement.

The pressure group demanded Mugabe’s resignation, citing government’s failure to deal with corruption, nepotism and a serious economic meltdown.

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