By Jeffrey Muvundusi
The MDC Alliance has filed an urgent application before the Bulawayo High Court challenging the police’s decision to ban its Kwekwe rally that had been scheduled for last Sunday.
Police blocked MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa’s planned thank you rally that had been slated for Mbizo 4 Shopping Centre in Kwekwe, following a notification issued on August 27.
In the application, the MDC Alliance cited officer commanding Kwekwe district, commissioner general of police Godwin Matanga and outgoing Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu as respondents.
In his founding affidavit, Charles Madhihwa — the party’s organising secretary — through his lawyers Chitere Chidawanyika and Partners said the reasons which were advanced by the police in turning down their application did not hold water.
“The reasons advanced by the first respondent (officer commanding Kwekwe district) are that there is an outbreak of typhoid in the province thus the public meeting will not be authorised. I submit that the right to associate and assemble is one of the most crucial rights in any society which must not be infringed without cogent reasons,” reads part of the submission.
The MDC Alliance’s lawyers described the reasons by the police as nothing but a lame excuse.
“I submit that the reasons advanced by the regulatory authority are not cogent enough. This is just a lame excuse to deny the applicant to hold its rally. The outbreak of typhoid has only been confirmed in Gweru and there is no outbreak in Kwekwe.
“Even if the outbreak of typhoid is a concern, which is not, I submit that there are other public gatherings which are being allowed by the respondents without any problem. Such gatherings include soccer matches …”
The lawyers further described the conduct of the responsible authority as unlawful and in contravention of Section 26 of the Public Order and Security Act, Chapter 11:17, claiming the police’s actions were a clear violation of the party’s freedom of assembly.
The applicant, however, appealed that the decision by the police to block the rally “be and is hereby declared unlawful and ultra vires the Constitution”.