By Mashudu Netsianda
THE High Court has blocked today’s planned demonstration by MDC-Alliance in Bulawayo following an urgent chamber application by residents, business community and churches.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa ruled that MDC-Alliance could not go ahead with the demonstrations after the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers’ Association, the Bulawayo United Residents’ Association (BURA), the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) and the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) yesterday approached the High Court on an urgent basis seeking an order prohibiting the opposition party from carrying out the demonstrations in the city.
In papers before the court, the applicants through their lawyers Joel Pincus, Konson and Wolhuter Legal Practitioners, cited MDC-Alliance, the Officer Commanding Police in Bulawayo Central District Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Phiri and her boss Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, as respondents.
“Pending the return date, the first respondent (MDC-Alliance) is temporarily prohibited from carrying out and convening a public demonstration and procession in terms of the first respondent’s notice dated 8 August 2019, such notice having been issued in terms of Section 24 of the Public Order and Security Act,” ruled Justice Mabhikwa.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Rodgers Hove, who is the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers’ Association’s committee member, said the intended demonstration was likely to turn violent hence they were likely to suffer irreparable harm through loss of property and business.
“This is an urgent chamber application petitioning for the temporary prohibition of the MDC-Alliance’s intended demonstration scheduled for 19 August 2019. The applicants’ petition for temporary relief as they contend that no adequate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the first respondent’s demonstration will not occasion irreparable harm, grievous inconvenience, public endangerment, serious injury, loss of property and business,” he said.
Mr Hove argued that although they fully respected that MDC-Alliance had a right to protest and demonstrate, they had a compelling and reasonable fear that they would suffer and experience losses similar to the January 14-16 violent protests.
“The MDC-Alliance seeks to occupy Bulawayo central business district for the whole day and yet they do not even address the issue of public and property safety, an issue of direct interest to the applicants. Nothing expressive is said about the potential destruction of property and likelihood of monetary loss by businesses,” he said.
Mr Hove said some of their members were yet to receive compensation after their businesses were looted during the January protests.
The others applicants, in their supporting affidavits, concurred with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers’ Association, saying they suffered when their products were looted and destroyed in January. They said there was a reasonable fear that there would be a repeat was of the January protests if no stringent measures were employed to ensure MDC-Alliance’s protests were peaceful.
GMAZ deputy national chairperson Mr Masimba Dzomba said their members lost stock worth US$1 million with some of the consignment having been supplied on credit.
Last week, MDC-Alliance’s bid to quash a police order prohibiting their planned demonstrations in Harare hit a brick wall after Harare High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa dismissed the application saying the political party had jumped the gun.
MDC-Alliance had notified the police of their planned demonstration on August 5 this year but the police on Thursday issued an order prohibiting the event for security reasons.