ZLHR challenges ZRP's bid to scupper protest

LAWYERS from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Tuesday 23 June 2015 petitioned the High Court seeking an order to interdict the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) from interfering with a protest march organised by some informal traders who are facing eviction from their trading stalls.

On 16 June 23, 2015, Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, the Officer Commanding ZRP Harare Central District granted authority to the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) to stage a lunchtime protest in Harare on Wednesday 24 June 2015 to petition Parliament seeking the intervention of legislators in their bid to compel local authorities and government to postpone the impending removal of informal traders from trading on the streets of the country’s main towns and cities. This was after NAVUZ had notified the ZRP of its intention to hold a demonstration against the impending eviction of informal traders from the so-called undesignated market stalls.

The petition which NAVUZ sought to hand over to Kennedy Chokuda, the Clerk of Parliament, was intended to secure legislators’ support in their lobby for the suspension of the impending eviction of informal traders for some time to enable some measures to be put in place before their ejection.

But Superintendent Saunyama on Monday 22 June 2015 made a volte face and advised Samuel Wadzai, the NAVUZ national director not to hold the planned protest march and warned that if the informal traders proceeded with the demonstration, some ZRP officers would interfere and stop the protesters from petitioning Parliament.

The police ban of the protest march compelled NAVUZ through its lawyer Trust Maanda of Maunga Maanda and Associates Legal Practitioners, a member of ZLHR, to file an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking to declare the ZRP’s actions illegal and unconstitutional.

In the application filed on Tuesday 23 June 2015, Maanda argued that the ZRP’s conduct in seeking to reverse its approval of the informal traders’ protest is a violation of the rights of NAVUZ’s membership to assembly, associate, demonstrate and petition and freedom of expression as enshrined in Section 58, 59 and 61 of the Constitution.

Maanda also argued that the conduct of the ZRP is not a just or reasonable and prompt administrative decision and violates the right to just administrative conduct in terms of Section 68 of the Constitution.

Maanda said it would be difficult for NAVUZ to stop its members from turning up for the protest march as the informal traders’ union had already mobilised its members to show up for the demonstration.

Judge President Justice George Chiweshe is set to hear the urgent chamber application early on Wednesday 24 June 2015.

Post published in: Human Rights

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