Thursday, 6 October 2016

PROTESTERS REMAIN DEFIANT

The opposition and pressure groups who were dealt a body blow when the High Court upheld a police ban on demonstrations in Harare have promised to roll out more protests in the coming weeks  — setting the stage for a brutal fight with government.

On Tuesday, the High Court ruled in favour of the police who on September 16, issued a decree on protests in central Harare for a month by invoking Section 27 of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa) which the opposition said was unconstitutional
At the same time, Nera lawyer Tendai Biti said they were going to appeal to the Supreme Court against Tuesday’s ruling by Judge President George Chiweshe.

The police ban came as the 18 opposition political parties coalescing under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) banner were preparing to roll out nationwide protests in a bid to force electoral reforms.

Yesterday, the pressure groups and Nera remained defiant — promising more protests over the electoral reforms and the imminent introduction of the bond notes.

“Citizens will soon call for peaceful demonstrations in Harare central business district (CBD).  If the demonstrations remain peaceful, there is no crime committed,” said leader of the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz), Sten Zvorwadza.

“We are not afraid. We have been arrested and beaten before; if they (police) extend their meaningless ban from October 15, it will be a mere declaration of a State of Emergency.
“The court ruling is not going to affect protesters only but even the children of those who are oppressing us because their future is now doomed,” added the feisty Navuz leader.

Tajamuka/Sesjikile spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said despite the police ban, they will be holding a massive demonstration in the CBD in protest over the introduction of bond notes.

“We want to protest against the illegal bond notes. Peaceful and non-violent protests will continue because they are permitted by the new Constitution. We hope Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights will continue to challenge the unlawful ban with the Supreme Court,” said Mkwananzi.

“We don’t expect the police to harass people. It is not the duty or mandate of the police to harass people. The police must abide by standards set out in the police act and the country’s Constitution.”

On September 16, police used Section 27 of Posa to ban all protests in central Harare for a month, a day before Nera was due to demonstrate in the country’s 210 constituencies to press for much-needed electoral reforms ahead of the watershed 2018 national elections.

While Nera heeded the ban in central Harare, government launched a savage clampdown against its members and pro-democracy groups, by deploying tens of thousands of police details and other law enforcement agents around the country to crush the planned protests.

This forced Nera to approach the High Court whose ruling was made on Tuesday — 11 days before the police ban expires.

Nera will be appealing against Chiweshe’s Tuesday ruling. “We are going to appeal to the Supreme Court and as a lawyer, I cannot comment further,” said Biti.

The MDC said the High Court ruling was a minor setback and was by no means the end of their fight for electoral reforms.

“We remain very determined to fight for the enforcement of the people of Zimbabwe’s fundamental human rights and liberties as more fully captured in the Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. We will crank up the pressure on the Zanu PF regime, relentlessly,’ said its spokesperson, Obert Gutu.

Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country gained its independence from Britain in April 1980, is facing the biggest challenge to his 36-year rule.
Angry Zimbabweans, reeling from the current economic meltdown which they blame on him, have been holding endless demonstrations since the economy hit turbulence in early June. daily news

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