High Court supports police ban on demonstrations, says its to protect property from being looted

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Harare – PROTESTORS may have to put on hold any plans to demonstrate until the police ban expires in 11 days as the High Court has ruled against striking it down.

Justifying his ruling this Tuesday, Judge President George Chiweshe said the ban was useful in protecting peace and property in the country.

Former finance minister Tendai Biti, who represented activists challenging the ban, said although Chiweshe admitted that the ban infringed on fundamental freedoms, it remained useful in protecting property and the country’s “tranquil environment”.

“The court’s rationale is that while the section of the law that allows police to ban protests was in breach of fundamental rights, it was justifiable in a democratic society,” Biti was quoted saying by Reuters.

The Harare lawyer and opposition politician said he would soon either launch an appeal at Supreme Court or challenge the High Court decision at the Constitutional Court, depending on the advice of fellow human rights lawyers.

In the last three months, Zimbabweans, who have not known any other president apart from Robert Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980, have engaged in demonstrations against the government.

Police however reacted by arresting, incarcerating and allegedly torturing hundreds of protestors—some of whom are still being hauled before courts.

Concerned about increasing demonstrations, police issued the first notice to ban on public protests last September but Judge Priscilla Chigumba struck it down, saying the ZRP had not followed procedures.

The once passive Zimbabweans have lately taken to social media and streets to register their anger over the lack of employment, cash shortages and worsening poverty in the country.




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