THE Zimbabwean government has banned all demonstrations in the country for two weeks, forcing the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) to postpone its planned protests on Friday, to the 16th of this month
The ban was effected through the issuance of Statutory Instrument (SI 104) OF 2016 which was published late Thursday afternoon.
“…thereof in the Harare Central Police District, hereby issues this order prohibiting for a period of two weeks from Friday the 2nd of September to Friday the 16th of September, the holding of all public demonstrations in the Harare Central Police District,” reads part of the Statutory Instrument.
However Movement for Democratic Change Zimbabwe – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) spokesperson Obert Gutu said the Statutory Instrument was unconstitutional and could be challenged in the Constitutional Court.
“Yes, there has been that Statutory Instrument although we had already agreed as parties to postpone the demonstration after the police had denied us permission to protest peacefully this Friday. But speaking as a lawyer, I know the constitutionality of this instrument is dubious and can be challenged in the courts,” he said of the highly publicised demonstration.
However, NERA Technical Committee chairperson, Joelson Mugari, had earlier said they were making another urgent chamber application seeking the High Court to stop the police from interfering with their demonstration planned for Friday to demand meaningful electoral reforms.
NERA, is made up of about 20 opposition political parties had had their initial protest last Friday was crushed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police despite it having been cleared by the High Court.
In a letter to NERA dated August 31, Officer Commanding Harare Central Police, Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, said the police encouraged them to elect a few representatives who would hand over their petition at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Headquarters as opposed to holding another mass demonstration.
He said their decision was also based on the fact that NERA had snubbed a meeting they had called on August 30, to discuss the modalities of the intended march.
The foiled demonstration on August 26, ended in violence as anti-riot police clashed with protesters and other passersby while several shops and flea markets were looted, some being set alight.
NERA, however, blamed the police for the riots, saying it was the law enforcement agents who had ignored a High Court order barring them from interfering with the protests and indiscriminately beating up people, resulting in running battles.
The government, through Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, on the other hand, attacked the judiciary for allowing the demonstration to proceed, saying the judge who heard the urgent chamber application had erred in his ruling. – ANA