THE High Court yesterday gave opposition parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) the green-light to stage another demonstration in Bulawayo, but the organisers of the protests cancelled the planned events.
The ruling by Bulawayo High Court Justice Nokuthula Moyo follows an urgent chamber application filed by Nera challenging the decision by police to bar the planned demonstrations in the city.
The judge directed police to provide security and necessary escorts for the conduct of the procession.
“It is ordered that the respondents guarantee that it shall take all the necessary steps reasonably with its means to ensure that all participants in the demonstration conduct themselves in a proper and civilised manner so that the demonstration does not degenerate into chaos,” ruled Justice Moyo.
The association comprising 13 opposition parties sought an order interdicting police from interfering with its planned protests or discouraging its supporters from participating in the march.
Nera argued that police had no legal basis to bar its supporters from staging a demonstration.
The demonstrators had planned to begin their protest from an open space between Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue and Athlone Road, Bulawayo at 10AM and march through JMN Nkomo Street into Robert Mugabe Way and finish at the City Hall.
Esnath Bulayani, who is Nera’s provincial chairman for Bulawayo province, in her founding affidavit, claimed that the protest was a legitimate way of expressing their discontent with the current state of the electoral landscape.
She alleged that the electoral landscape in the country was not conducive for the holding of free and fair elections. Nera informed the police of the planned demo but they did not sanction it.
On Thursday, the MDC-T said NERA demonstrations countrywide have been postponed to September 16.
The party said police had demanded that all the political parties that are signatory to NERA should have given them adequate notice to stage the protests.
Police have banned the holding of demonstrations in Harare for the next two weeks citing some inadequacies in section 26 of the Public Order and Security Act to prevent disorder being caused by such processions. They also banned the carrying of catapults and axes among other traditional weapons likely to be used to instigate violence.
President Mugabe last week warned opposition party leaders that they would not be allowed to infringe on the rights of innocent citizens. The President also warned embattled MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai against trying to unseat a constitutionally elected Government through violence.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba recently said the rowdy behaviour exhibited by some supporters was the reason why sometimes they were reluctant to clear such gatherings. chronicle