ZIMBABWEAN police have been left with egg on their faces after High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi overturned a ban imposed by the police on a procession organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) scheduled for Saturday 14 September 2013.
The ZCTU had notified the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) of their planned procession and even had the courtesy to request police escort for the commemoration aimed at celebrating trade union rights to organise and the workers struggle for emancipation and recognition. The labour federation also intended to hold a cleanup campaign at Copacabana commuter omnibus terminus in Harare and thereafter stage a lunchtime march.
But the ZRP which on Tuesday 20 August 2013 had granted the ZCTU authority to hold the procession later withdrew the permission on the basis that the political situation obtaining in the country was not conducive to hold the commemoration. The ZRP through Chief Superintendent Saunyama charged that some unscrupulous elements might take advantage of and hijack the whole programme and insisted that according to the intelligence they had gathered there were some unidentified people who were waiting to hijack the march.
The police ban prompted lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) acting on behalf of the ZCTU to file an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking to overturn the police ban and declare it illegal and void at law. ZLHR lawyers argued that the ZCTU as a registered trade union is exempt from the limitations and qualification imposed on processions.
In the urgent chamber application, ZLHR lawyers Jeremiah Bamu, Tawanda Zhuwarara and Bellinda Chinowawa argued that the ZRP’s refusal for the ZCTU to hold its procession in commemoration of workers’ rights is beyond what is prescribed by the obnoxious Public Order and Security Act as it is a violation of the labour federation’s right to freedom of assembly and association as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
On Thursday 12 September 2013, Justice Mathonsi who heard the urgent chamber application quashed the police ban of the ZCTU’s procession. Justice Mathonsi interdicted the police from disturbing or interfering in any way with the ZCTU’s procession. The Judge directed the ZRP to provide police escort for the procession.