Court to rule on planned demo

Source: Court to rule on planned demo | The Herald August 26, 2016

Daniel Nemukuyu : Senior Court Reporter—
THE National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), an association of 13 opposition political parties, yesterday approached the High Court seeking permission to hold their demonstration in Harare today. This comes after Government warned activists against unsanctioned demonstrations. The parties say they seek to hold a “peaceful” demonstration in the streets of Harare today as a way of expressing their discontent with the state of the electoral landscape.

The group says it plans to lobby for electoral reform through the demonstration. In a founding affidavit, NERA organising secretary Mr Joelson Mugari said the group notified the police of the intended street march and procession on August 12 this year.

On August 15, Mr Mugari said, police responded to the notice discouraging NERA from holding the street march.

“In particular, the first respondent (Officer Commanding Harare Police) stated that his office discouraged the applicant’s intended march on the basis that the number of intended participants cannot be accommodated in the central business district as it would interrupt the smooth flow of both human and vehicular traffic.

“First respondent further stated that he encouraged the applicant to engage the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission instead of engaging in street demonstrations,” reads the affidavit. NERA interpreted the police response as a bar to the peaceful demonstration. The group argued that Section 59 of the Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful demonstrations.

“I aver that the applicant’s intended march and procession against the present state of the electoral landscape falls within the purview of the applicant’s constitutional rights,” it argued.

NERA said it feared that the police would interfere with its planned demonstration, hence the need for the court’s intervention. The planned march, according to the court papers, would start from an open area behind Rainbow Towers and proceed to Robert Mugabe Road, Fourth Street, Jason Moyo Avenue and end at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices.