ZIMBABWE: Activists challenge New Protest Ban

HARARE SEPTEMBER 16, 2016(CISA)-Zimbabwe anti-government activists have vowed to challenge a new police order barring protests in Harare.

This comes on the eve of mass demonstrations planned across the country against President Robert Mugabe. The month-long protest ban imposed on Friday, over a week after an earlier order was overruled by the courts.

A coalition of opposition parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) is demanding reform ahead of the 2018 vote, including free access to the voters’ roll.

“This is a typical comedy of errors where the state has fallen into the very same legal trap it fell into last time,” says Douglas Mwonzora, NERA spokesperson. “A similar order was challenged before a competent court which declared it invalid and nothing is to be gained by issuing the same order again,” he continued adding that the opposition parties would challenge the ban in the high court. President Mugabe has vowed a crackdown on judges for their “reckless” rulings allowing previous demonstrations. Promise Mkwananzi, spokesperson for the protest group Tajamuka, promised that they would march on Saturday, despite the police order.

“The constitution and the high court allow for peaceful demonstrations,” he says. Adding, “The police are promoting lawlessness in the country by banning peaceful demonstrations.”

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party won the last general elections in 2013, which were marred by electoral fraud. This caused growing opposition to the ageing leader’s 36-year reign in recent months with a surge of public demonstrations, triggered by an economic crisis that has left banks short of cash and the government struggling to pay its workers.

Two weeks ago, police detained scores of people including activists and bystanders following violent protests in the capital. Mugabe, 92, has often used brutal force to silence his opponents and warned the protestors last week they were “playing a dangerous game.”

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