HARARE – Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy (Yard) founder Temba Mliswa has resolved to challenge the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) after police used it to bar him from addressing meetings last weekend.
This comes after Mliswa was arrested for holding an “unsanctioned” meeting.
Yard said Mliswa believed the police were abusing their powers in denying him his freedom of expression and association.
Mliswa together with 23 Yard members were arrested in Esigodini on Sunday while holding an “unsanctioned” district executive meeting, according to police.
Mliswa appeared in court in Esgodini yesterday. He said he will be launching an urgent High Court application to challenge the “draconian” Posa.
Public demonstrations and protests are effectively illegal under the 2002 Posa, which curtails citizens’ rights to freedom of expression.
The Act contains a number of restrictions on citizens’ rights to assembly and association, making it difficult for elected representatives to regularly meet with their constituents. The majority of meetings are either declared illegal or are otherwise disrupted.
“This is part of the struggle, we will continue challenging the flawed status quo, we shall continue to advocate for the people, we shall continue to serve our generation,” Mliswa said in a statement.
“As is the responsibility of myself as a father, a mentor and above all, as the commander-in-chief of the Yard, I have taken full responsibility and have decided to personally defend justice and constitutionality against this police harassment. I have hence taken the stance to be charged and detained for as long as it takes in my personal capacity.
“We did nothing wrong. Our lawyers are on the matter. An urgent High Court application will be drafted and we will be back on track.”
Yard said the arrest of Mliswa was a sign of panic from Zanu PF, who they alleged was using the police to stifle democracy.
This comes as the youth organisation is blaming a Zanu PF councillor Patson Sibanda for disrupting the meeting and “conniving with the police to arrest Mliswa”.
“Already, Zanu PF are panicking in their attempt to silence any voice of discontent preceding the 2018 elections, how much more desperate will they become as the time approaches?
“Where is the freedom of speech and association as is espoused in the Constitution? It would now seem that councillor Sibanda has answered on behalf of Zanu PF as to how they feel about such matters,” Yard said in the statement.
“Not only has the unconstitutional Posa been cited in this matter, but evidence of the level of disrespect of the Zimbabwe Constitution by members of the ruling party was glaringly captured on camera.
“The Umzingwane Rural District councillor in Matabeleland South, councillor … Sibanda foolishly and in total ignorance of his terms of reference as a councillor, invaded … Mliswa’s private space and slighted the Constitution of Zimbabwe as ‘a stupid book’ while unashamedly clamouring for unjustified and unwarranted recognition and respect in a move that was way over his sphere of jurisdiction and at best can be described as confrontational and pitiful.”
Yard said the councillor should resign, failing of which he should be investigated for misconduct.
“This example of bully-boy tactics exposes not only the disdain and disregard members of the ruling party, supposedly in positions of oversight and leadership, have for our Constitution, but further reveals the hideously low levels these rabid, power-hungry monsters will go to grasp on to the remaining semblance of authority they profess to possess.”