OPPOSITION parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) have taken the fight against the police ban on demonstrations to the Supreme Court, vowing to escalate street protests in central Harare until electoral reforms were made.
Source: Demo ban: Nera appeals to Supreme Court – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 6, 2016
By Everson Mushava
Judge President Justice George Chiweshe on Tuesday dismissed a court challenge by Nera and pressure groups challenging the constitutionality of a ban imposed on protests in Harare Central District by the police under Statutory Instrument 101 A of 2016.
But Nera head of legal affairs Douglas Mwonzora was of the view that the ruling was political.
“It is just as political as the 2013 ruling that forced us into elections. We are going to file an appeal at the court today (yesterday),” Mwonzora said.
Mwonzora vowed Justice Chiweshe’s ruling would not stop them from going into the streets, saying the police had always assaulted Nera members exercising their constitutional right.
Justice Chiweshe’s ruling dismissed High Court judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba’s earlier ruling giving a nod to protests following a joint application by Nera, Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment, Combined Harare Residents’ Association, Zimbabwe Divine Destiny and Harare resident Stendrick Zvorwadza.
Nera and the pressure groups were seeking the suspension of a ban on protests in Harare by the police from September 16 to October 16. Justice Chigumba then ruled that it was the constitutional right of citizens to protest as provided for in Section 59 of the constitution.
But in his ruling, Justice Chiweshe said the police acted lawfully under section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act. He said Section 27(1) was not ultra vires the constitution and therefore dismissed with costs the challenge.
Nera have been conducting nationwide demonstrations to push government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to implement electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 polls.
The opposition parties were calling for a raft of electoral reforms, among them institutional reforms at Zec, which they argued will level the playing field which was tilted towards President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
Meanwhile, Zvorwadza, who is also the National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe leader and #ThisFlower campaigner, also vowed to defy the protest ban.
Zvorwadza said they were considering staging a demonstration tomorrow at the United Nations offices to push for Zimbabwean police officers to be stopped from going for peacekeeping missions.