THE Zimbabwe High Court has faulted the lower Magistrates Court after a judge of the latter blundered an appeal by the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) against a police ban
of a campaign rally last Friday.
The decision by Bindura Magistrate Mary Msika is the latest in an alleged bid by the judiciary to frustrate the opposition ahead of the August 23 elections.
Msika ruled in favour of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), which on Friday banned the rally scheduled for this past Sunday in Bindura, Mashonaland Central provincial capital, claiming the venue was
unsuitable as it is a “busy area without serviceable roads, water and sewer facilities,” which poses a “high-risk security threat to participants.”
The ban compelled some provincial leaders of the opposition political party, namely Samuel Gondongwe, Agreement Kagura and Susan Mawire, and the party to file an appeal against the ZRP prohibition notice, arguing that it is in conflict with the provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) Act.
On Sunday, High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi then ruled that Msika had bungled her handling of the case.
Chitapi also set aside Msika’s decision to defer the hearing and not to determine the appeal by CCC when it was placed before her.
In the end, Chitapi ordered Msika to immediately hear and make a determination by no later than this past Sunday.
Chitapi’s ruling is unprecedented in that the judiciary, and police, in Zimbabwe are criticized as an appendage of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in power since independence in 1980.
While CCC has struggled to have police approve its rallies, ZANU-PF rallies have proceeded without incident with law enforcers.
– CAJ News