Zimbabwe court outlaws banning of demonstrations

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Harare – The Zimbabwe High Court on Wednesday outlawed the banning of demonstrations in the country.

The court declared Statutory Instrument 101 (A), which bans demonstrations in the Harare Central District, unconstitutional and ruled that it was invalid.

In her ruling Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the procedure in Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which was used to gazette the Statutory Instrument 101 (A) had not been followed. Chigumba suspended the regulation for seven days to allow the respondents to address the defects.

This followed an application by opposition political parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) and some residents associations to have the regulation quashed, arguing that it violated their right to demonstrate peacefully as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

The applicants, who are being represented Tendai Biti and Dzimbabwe Chimbga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had argued that the regulatory authority, in this instance the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which had enforced the statutory instrument did not have powers to make laws.

They also argued that SI 101 must comply with Section 134 of the country’s constitution in that it should respects; that the Act must empower the authority to make law, that the regulatory authority did not have the power to make laws and that the constitution was clear that statutory instruments could not undermine the rights given by the constitution.

Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment (DARE) president, Gilbert Dzikiti, who was part of the applicants, welcomed the judgment saying it was a reminder that the country was republic and not a monarchy that pandered to the whims of Robert Mugabe.

“We salute the bravery of Justice Priscilla Chigumba against the backdrop of threats and victimisation by Mugabe in his speech some days ago. We have stood up to tyranny and we will never allow injustice to hinder our road to democracy and liberty,” he said.

Dzikiti said the statutory instrument was an attempt by the Zanu PF government to subvert the constitution, adding that it was treasonous. He said the judgment was a warning toil-advised law officers being used by their superiors and other arms of the state. “We hope in future he will refuse to be used to protect a rogue regime bent on denying citizens their right,” he said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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