Police outlaw electoral reforms demo

By Tendai Kamhungira

Zimbabwean police have outlawed demonstrations called by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) demanding electoral reforms, claiming the demonstration will violate road users’ rights.

Riot police in Zimbabwe are viewed as an extension of the ruling Zanu PF party
Riot police in Zimbabwe are viewed as an extension of the ruling Zanu PF party

CiZC — a conglomeration of Zimbabwean civic groups — wanted to march from the central business district to the offices of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission yesterday, where the coalition intended to hand over a petition to the election management body and to Parliament, demanding the speedy implementation of electoral reforms.

After the proscription of the demo, CiZC dragged the Zimbabwe Republic Police to court seeking an order restraining the law enforcement agency from interfering with the demonstration.

CiZC had said the demonstration would go on peacefully.

In a letter written to CiZC acting director Thulani Mswelanto, one chief superintendent Ncube said CiZC should shelve the march because “violations of other road users’ freedoms are highly likely during the march” and that the flow of traffic along the proposed route will be “highly disturbed”. Ncube said CiZC could only gather at Africa Unity Square from 1000hrs to 1200hrs from where the civil society organisation can then hand over its petition to Parliament.

This prompted CiZC to engage its lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who filed an exparte application at Harare Magistrates’ Court, which was due to be heard yesterday.

In the application, human rights lawyer Noble Chinhanu of ZLHR, argued that the conditions and amendments set by Chief Superintendent Ncube of confining the protesters to Africa Unity Square only, takes away the right of CiZC to hold a procession.

Chinhanu argued that the decision by Ncube was made without inviting CiZC representatives to a consultative meeting to explore options to prevent any threat if any and to allow the coalition to make representations.

Chinhanu wanted the court to set aside the order prohibiting the public procession and interdict Ncube and his agents from disturbing or interfering in any way with the public demonstration and procession.

The human rights lawyer also wants the court to declare Ncube’s actions as unlawful and unconstitutional. Daily News