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CiZC takes on police over anti-violence demo ban

by Staff reporter
13 Aug 2022 at 14:27hrs | Views
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has filed an urgent High Court application challenging a recent police ban on an anti-violence prayer rally which the firebrand civic group had set for Harare's iconic Africa Unity Square this past Friday.

The ban followed a letter initially sent to police at Harare Central 3 August notifying the law enforcement authority of the group's intentions to stage a prayer rally.

Activists had also planned to petition the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and parliament to act on what they strongly felt was the deterioration of the democratic space, escalation of human rights violations, and the persecution of government critics by the State.

Police responded with a ban on the planned protest citing provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act which prohibited protests carried out within 20 metres of parliament building.

In a challenge on the police ban, CiZC argued, through lawyers, that the ban by police was "not based on any factual basis" and was a "breach of rights conferred upon it by the Zimbabwean constitution".

"The Respondent prohibited the proposed public meeting of the appellant on the ground that the applicant proposed meeting (10)(1)(a) of the Act whereas the meeting place the Applicant indicated and as agreed in the meeting between the applicant and the Respondent in terms of 58 of the Act is not within 20 meters of Parliament.

"The meeting place, Africa Unity Square the applicant advised the respondent of is not within 20 meters of parliament at all.

"By prohibiting the demonstration on the basis that the meeting will be in breach of $10 (1) (a) of the Act when the meeting held with him in terms of section 8 of the Act had produced an agreement as to the venue and how the meeting was to be held and the petition handed over.

"The respondent has not given any reason why he has departed from the earlier agreed position. He is whimsical and arbitrary in his action," read parts of CiZC's challenge.

CiZC's petition had been intended for submission to ZHRC outlining the group's concerns over the alleged transgressions.

Earlier, CiZC chairperson Peter Mutasa told ZimLive that Zimbabwean police had turned themselves into de facto partisan enablers of a rogue government bent on usurping citizens' constitutional rights.

"The Zimbabwe Republic Police is acting in the most repugnant manner. What the police are doing is completely unacceptable.

"The police cannot take away the constitutional rights of citizens to further a partisan agenda.

"It has banned all peaceful assemblies proposed by every other group except Zanu-PF. This is bad and unconstitutional. We are back in colonial era policing and dictatorship.

"We are pursuing the legal route urgently and seek to exhaust it.

"If the judiciary also decides to be partisan and fail in its constitutional role to protect citizens, then we will just have to mobilise citizens for nonviolent civil resistance," said Mutasa.

Source - zimlive
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