HARARE – The High Court yesterday overturned a police ban on a Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) meeting to galvanise structures in Chinhoyi yesterday, a lawyer for the ZPF said.
Police banned the planned meeting in the campaign for the forthcoming 2018 general elections between ZPF leader Joice Mujuru, the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, veteran leader Robert Mugabe and other fringe parties because authorities could not guarantee the safety of party leaders.
ZPF said the police decision to bar opposition rallies was deplorable.
ZPF lawyer Gift Nyandoro cited Attorney-General Prince Machaya, officer commanding Makonde District, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and commissioner-general of police Augustine Chihuri as respondents in the urgent chamber application filed by the party.
After hearing the matter in his chambers, High Court judge Happious Zhou granted the application yesterday.
“The order has been granted. The judge has granted the application with the necessary amendments that the meeting must end at 8pm today (yesterday), since it was initially scheduled to end at 5pm. Our members are jovial about the ruling,” Nyandoro said.
The party said that it notified the Makonde District commanding officer on May 31, before being granted permission on June 1.
“By way of this letter officer-in-charge Chemagamba has been advised and may provide necessary security if need arise,” reads part of the permission letter written by the officer commanding Makonde District only identified as SG Ndou.
Following the granting of the permission, the party officials began making all the preparatory engagements, which included securing accommodation and conference bookings for its leadership.
“On the 11th hour of the 2nd day of June 2016…and at around 5:30pm, our client was served with a letter of cancellation of the earlier permission that had been granted by police,” Nyandoro said in a letter to the judge president.
He said the party has been highly prejudiced by the conduct of the police because it incurred huge financial costs, adding that the reasons given by the police for the cancellation were not justifiable.
In an affidavit, ZPF’s Mashonaland West provincial chairperson Marian Chombo said the police cancelled the meeting because they did not have enough manpower to provide sufficient security.
“I submit that the last-minute cancellation . . . is ill-conceived and ill-advised to say the least for it amounts to the trampling of law with impunity by police suggesting that it can do as it pleases without any censure from the decency and respect of law,” Chombo said.
The party was seeking an order allowing the holding of the meeting and barring the State officials from interfering with the gathering.