BULAWAYO High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo yesterday blasted Kwekwe police for blocking opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s rally, which was supposed to be held in the Midlands capital last week Saturday.
MDC Alliance lawyer Tonderai Chitere confirmed that the High Court had overturned the ban.
“The rally has been okayed by the High Court. In fact, the judge said it was the applicant’s constitutional right to hold the rally and it was even shocking that the police had blocked the meeting,” Chitere said.
In a ruling made in chambers, Justice Moyo said police acted unlawfully and subverted provisions of the Constitution which allow for freedom of expression and assembly.
She agreed with MDC Kwekwe district chairperson Charles Madhihwa, convener of the rally, that Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and his subordinates had no right to arbitrarily cancel the rally.
Madhihwa, in his founding affidavit, accused Matanga through the Officer Commanding Kwekwe district Chief Superintendent Conrad Mubaiwa, of acting arbitrarily and subverting the Constitution.
“The action of the first respondent attempts to infringe on Section 58 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which enshrines the right to freedom of assembly and association as well as the freedom of expression enshrined in Section 61. That is so important that it cannot be arbitrarily or unreasonably taken away by any person, including first respondent,” he submitted to the court.
Mubaiwa had blocked the rally, citing health concerns following a typhoid outbreak in Gweru, claiming Health ministry officials had also expressed similar concerns.
But the MDC Alliance dismissed the cited reasons as flimsy, saying police had failed to present evidence that they had consulted with the Health ministry.
“No evidence was provided on oath as envisaged by the (Public Order and Security) Act (Posa) in question. The conduct of the police as the responsible authority is unlawful, and is in contravention of Section 26 of Posa Chapter 11:17 that the respondents purport to be enforcing, and there are no cogent grounds for prohibiting the public meeting and is a clear violation of applicant’s freedom of assembly, association as well as expression, which freedoms are constitutionally protected,” Madhihwa submitted.