High Court lifts ban on Harare demon­stra­tions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Na­tional News -

“At the ex­piry of the seven work­ing day grace pe­riod given to the re­spon­dents to cor­rect the de­fects in the or­der is­sued in terms of Sec­tion 27 of the Pub­lic Or­der Se­cu­rity Act, The sec­ond and third re­spon­dent (Dr Chombo) shall be and are hereby in­ter­dicted from un­law­fully in­ter­fer­ing with the rights of cit­i­zens to ex­er­cise their right de­fined by Sec­tion 59 of the Con­sti­tu­tion read to­gether with Sec­tion 12 of the Pub­lic Or­der Se­cu­rity Act (Chap­ter 11:17).”

The po­lice rep­re­sented by Mr Happy Ma­gadure of the AG’s of­fice had op­posed the con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenge.

He re­lied on Sec­tion 86 of the Con­sti­tu­tion that pro­vides for lim­i­ta­tion of fun­da­men­tal rights. But Jus­tice Chigumba did not agree. She ac­cepted sub­mis­sions by the Zim­babwe Lawyers for Hu­man Rights led by Mr Tendai Biti and Mr Dz­im­babwe Chim­bgwa.

The lawyers ar­gued that Statu­tory In­stru­ment is­sued by the po­lice was not in ac­cor­dance with Sec­tion 68 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The Sec­tion pro­vides that ad­min­is­tra­tive con­duct must be fair, im­par­tial and trans­par­ent and also the no­tice for demon­stra­tions.

The lawyers also cor­rectly ar­gued that the no­tice to ban demon­stra­tions should be done in ac­cor­dance with Sec­tion 27 of the POSA. The sec­tion pro­vides that there must be con­sul­ta­tions with the af­fected par­ties be­fore tak­ing such a dras­tic ac­tion.

In an in­ter­view last night, Mr Chim­bgwa said in ef­fect the rul­ing had sus­pended the op­er­a­tion of the le­gal in­stru­ment, to give the State an op­por­tu­nity to act in ac­cor­dance with the law.

“As things stand there is no law that bans the right to demon­stra­tions and pe­ti­tions as a re­sult of the High Court or­der,” said Mr Chim­bgwa. “We did not do this for us as lawyers. Our role as lawyers is to en­sure that all State ac­tors act in ac­cor­dance with the Con­sti­tu­tion and do not un­law­fully limit rights of cit­i­zens.”

The op­po­si­tion par­ties and Harare res­i­dents chal­lenged the va­lid­ity of the po­lice ban on all demon­stra­tions in the cap­i­tal say­ing it was in con­tra­ven­tion with the supreme law of the coun­try. The ban was for two weeks and was sup­posed to ex­pire on Septem­ber 16.

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