ZLHR challenges ban of NGO operations in Zim

ZIMBABWE LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (ZLHR) on Thursday 14 March 2019 filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court challenging government’s decision to suspend the operations of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development Trust (COTRAD), a local non-governmental organistaion (NGO).

FILE: Participants following proceedings during COTRAD dialogue meeting at Chenhara in Mwenezi

Government through Masvingo District Administrator (DA) on Monday 11 March 2019 ordered COTRAD to cease operations pending investigation on its registration.

In a letter written to COTRAD, Masvingo District Administrator instructed COTRAD not to carry out any activities “of any kind” in the jurisdiction of Masvingo district pending investigation on the registration and approval issues of the organisation by the DA’s office.

This prompted COTRAD, to engage Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to file an urgent chamber application in the High Court challenging the DA’s decision to outlaw the NGO’s operations and seeking an order to be allowed to resume full operations in Masvingo without any interference.

In the application, Halimani argued that the District Administrator is not empowered by any law to suspend or stop COTRAD’s operations as it is not registered as a Private Voluntary Organistaion but as a Trust, created by a Notarial Deed of Donation and Trust, which is registered at the Deeds Registry.

Halimani argued that the order compelling COTRAD, which has been operating in Masvingo province for the past six years, to cease operations had left 5 000 underprivileged people prejudiced and without recourse including the organisation’s eight employees.

COTRAD wants the High Court to reverse the Masvingo District Administrator’s directive to suspend its operations including to be allowed to resume full operations in Masvingo without any interference and for the decision to be declared null and void and of no force and effect.

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