THE MDC-T has filed an urgent chamber application challenging a police ban of its rally scheduled for Zvishavane tomorrow.
The party, represented by its Midlands provincial organising secretary Semina Msindo, filed the application at the Bulawayo High Court on Thursday, citing Officer Commanding Zvishavane district, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo as first, second and third respondents respectively.
In his founding affidavit, Msindo submitted that on October 29 this year, the opposition party notified the police of their intention to hold a rally at Zvishavane Park on November 6.
“Through notice dated November 1 from the office of the first respondent, applicant was advised that the planned rally was prohibited,” the affidavit reads.
“Two reasons were advanced being that there would be a soccer match at Mandava Stadium and that Midlands State University students were preparing to close after writing their examinations, therefore, were likely to be excited. The response was received on November 11.”
Msindo said he was advised that the ban on the rally was not only unlawful, but also flies in the face of enjoyment of fundamental rights.
He stated that following the initial ban, the party approached the court seeking an interim relief setting aside the ban. Msindo said the application was granted on November 4.
“In the morning of November, pursuant to applicant’s notice of October 29 and the subsequent court order by the Zvishavane Magistrates’ Court setting aside first respondent’s prohibition notice, applicant’s members started pitching up tents and gathering at the venue in preparation for the rally according to the notice given to the police,” the affidavit reads.
“Before finishing the preparations, police armed with baton sticks, teargas canisters and firearms ransacked the venue and disrupted the applicant’s members from the preparations.”
The affidavit states that the police ordered everyone to disperse and uprooted the tents and went on to throw teargas canisters on the party members.
It states that the police further arrested seven members of MDC-T, charging them with public violence.
The charges were, however, quashed by the courts.
“As law abiding citizens, applicant’s members did not give up on engaging the office of the first respondent. On November 14, applicant delivered a new notice to first respondent’s office,” the affidavit further states.
The notice was that the rally had been rescheduled for November 20 at the same venue, but the police on November 15 issued a prohibition notice to the party.
This prompted the party to file the urgent chamber application seeking to set aside the ban. The police and Chombo are yet to respond to the application. newsday