WAR veterans yesterday scored a major victory against President Robert Mugabe after the High Court sanctioned their holding of a meeting to discuss welfare issues of the ex-combatants following police attempts to block the indaba.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The meeting will be a slap in Mugabe’s face who had started organising a counter meeting with the ex-freedom fighters to neutralise the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) “renegade” group.
But High Court judge Justice Alpheus Chitakunye ruled in favour of the war veterans and granted the order in terms of the draft which was seeking to bar the police from disrupting the meeting that was initially scheduled for yesterday but was later postponed indefinitely due to the court case.
After the court victory, ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda said: “The next dates will be provided in due course.”
In his determination, Justice Chitakunye ruled: “That the meeting that the applicant (ZNLWVA) intends to hold on the 17th of March 2017 from 10am to 3pm at City Sports Centre, as notified in its notice dated 9th March 2017, be and is hereby authorised … That the applicant ensures that the meeting will be no procession, marching or toy-toying.
“The first respondent [Superintendent T Makunike] and the police force be and are hereby ordered to refrain from disrupting the meeting referred to in paragraph (i) above. There shall be no order as to costs.”
In the application, the war veterans had cited Makunike, in his capacity as the Officer Commanding Police Harare Central District, Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo as respondents.
The ex-freedom fighters argued they had approached the court on an urgent basis after realising that the law enforcement agents planned to thwart their meeting and were prepared for a repeat of February last year’s event.
The Mutsvangwa-led war veterans were last year bashed and teargassed by the police in Harare for holding an “unsanctioned” meeting following strained relations with their patron, Mugabe.
“It becomes necessary at this point to take the court back momentarily to the events of the 18th of February 2016 when the applicant held a meeting of a similar nature. Despite the regulating authority having been duly notified of this particular meeting and not having raised any safety concerns, the riot police regardless descended on the venue and acted in a drastic and violent manner towards the applicant’s members,” Mutsvangwa said in his affidavit.
Mutsvangwa also said on February 10 this year the ZNLWVA wrote to the police in terms of section 25 of Public Order and Security Act (Posa) notifying the force of their intention to hold the national general meeting.
But, on March 4, 2017 Superintendent Makunike responded citing that the notice by the freedom fighters did not comply with section 23 (1) (a) and (b), 23 (2) and 25 (2) of Posa.
Makunike alleged that there were elements within the war veterans’ ranks that wanted to act in a disruptive manner.
The war veterans then filed with the regulating authority a fresh notice dated March 9, 2017 for the meeting, rescheduling it to March 17. They were summoned for a consultative and negotiation meeting by the police on March 14 in terms of Section 26 (3) of Posa.
The police refused to clear the meeting, forcing the war veterans to make an urgent court application challenging the order by the police.
In the application, Mutsvangwa said he had received information from various provinces of the country that ZNLWVA members were suffering, hence the organisation intended to hold the meeting and address their concerns.