Rights lawyers have filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court challenging government’s decision to suspend the operations of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development Trust (Cotrad), a local non-governmental organisation (NGO).
This comes after government, through the office of the Masvingo district administrator (DA), last week told Cotrad to cease operations pending investigation into its registration and bonafides
In a letter written to Cotrad, the Masvingo DA’s office instructed Cotrad not to carry out any activities “of any kind” in the jurisdiction of Masvingo district pending investigation on the registration and approval issues of the organisation.
This prompted Cotrad to engage Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to file an urgent chamber application in the High Court challenging the DA’s decision to outlaw the NGO’s operations.
The court application also sought an order for Cotrad to be allowed to resume full operations in Masvingo without any interference.
In the application, Halimani argued that the DA is not empowered by any law to suspend or stop Cotrad’s operations as it is not registered as a Private Voluntary Organisation but as a Trust, created by a Notarial Deed of Donation and Trust, which is registered at the Deeds Registry.
Halimani argued that the order compelling Cotrad, which has been operating in Masvingo province for the past six years, to cease operations had left 5 000 underprivileged people prejudiced and without recourse including the organisation’s eight employees.
Cotrad wants the High Court to reverse the Masvingo DA’s directive to suspend its operations including to be allowed to resume full operations in Masvingo without any interference and for the decision to be declared null and void and of no force and effect.