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Tendai Biti – Bulawayo march to proceed



Tendai Biti

Justice Joseph Musakwa on Friday threw out the MDC’s urgent chamber application seeking to lift a police ban on demonstrations intended for Harare on the same day.

Police used truncheons to break up a small group of MDC supporters who had gathered in the city centre, ready to take part in marches to protest against the deepening economic crisis.

Emerging from court, MDC vice president Tendai Biti, the party’s spokesman Daniel Molokele and the legal secretary Innocent Gonese spoke to gathered journalists. Here is what they had to say:

MOLOKELE: We will not be stopped by this regime. What we are seeing is that there’s no difference between Mugabe and Mnangagwa, same old regime. There’s no new dispensation, let the whole of Zimbabwe know, let the whole of the world know. They are still as fascist as ever, they are still as dictatorial and politically abusing state institutions such as the police and the High Court. At this moment in time, as the people of Zimbabwe we are taking the future of this country into outr own hands and we will use every possible means to make sure that democracy finally dawns in this country.

GONESE: It was really on technical grounds. What we must emphasise is that when we filed an urgent chamber application it was on the basis of procedural irregularity. There was no compliance with Section 26 of POSA, in the sense that the section requires that a response should be filed within seven days and the meeting must be held within seven days and there was no compliance with that section. So we were within our rights to make an urgent chamber application for a review of the prohibition order. So in terms of the judgment we believe that it is technically unsound.

BITI: So we appeared this morning before Justice Musakwa. Mr Alec Muchadehama is the leading counsel supported by myself. We argued very strongly that the issuance of the prohibition order was unlawful. The prohibition order in terms of Section 26 of POSA has to be made within seven days from the day that notification (to stage demonstrations) is given. Notification was given on August 5, 2019, so therefore the seven days would have expired on August 12. The prohibition order was only issued at 2100 hrs last night on August 15, 2019. So therefore we had a procedural issue, and adjectival issue with the manner in which the prohibition order was issued. And where you have a procedural issue as opposed to a substantive issue, your remedy is a review. And therefore we were within our rights to make an application for review to this honourable court.

All of you are aware that the High Court since time immemorial has been issuing us orders allowing us to march; orders setting aside decisions made by the regulating authority. Many of you will remember two years ago in 2017 when Justice Priscilla Chigumba issued an order allowing us to march on September 1 after Newbert Saunyama, the then regulating authority, had issued an order prohibiting Harare from holding marches for three months.

The High Court is a court of original and superior jurisdiction, this is our home, it’s supposed to effect our rights. We differ respectfully with the ruling of the High Court. We will not appeal to the Magistrate’s Court because we do not accept the correctness, with great respect, the ruling of the High Court of Zimbabwe.

We are now going to proceed with our intended marches in Bulawayo on Monday, August 19, we are proceeding with Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare. Today, the true colour of the so-called ‘new dispensation’ was exposed. The constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate in terms of Section 59; the constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association; the constitution guarantees the right to freedom of assembly yet this fascist regime has denied and proscribed this right to the people of Zimbabwe. Even with a court order, this march was not going to take place. As I am talking to you right now, all roads leading to Harare have been cordoned off. Right now people have been arrested in Kambuzuma who were trying to come to Harare. Right now people are being arrested in Mabvuku for trying to come to Harare.

The truth of the matter is that we jumped from the frying pan into the fire after the coup of November 2017. This is a fascist government that has no respect to the rights of the people of Zimbabwe. The issues that are being raised in our notice are genuine: issues of corruption, unemployment, the cost of living, shortages of fuel, shortages of basic commodities and power outages that are lasting for 18 hours.

As lawyers for this movement, we don’t accept the closure of political space. As I am talking to you right now people are being abducted, activists are being tortured. This is not acceptable. We don’t accept the conduct of this regime, the conduct of Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa. We will continue exercising our rights to demonstrate peacefully and constitutionally but today we beg to differ respectfully with the ruling made by the High Court.

JOURNALIST: So to be clear, today the march will no longer go ahead but next week in other cities. Is that the position?

BITI: They have banned our march. The police have stopped our march so even if the High Court had given us a judgment the regime has shown its true colours by making sure it has cordoned off the entirety of Harare. We find it ironic that in the state’s papers, in the government papers, they were arguing that they do not have enough manpower to accompany us in our march as we marched along Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel yet they have sufficient manpower to cordon of the entirety of Harare and to prevent people from coming from Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton to come to the march. And also our headquarters, if you go to our headquarters right now, they are totally cordoned off. It’s very ironic that they have got manpower to stop rights but not manpower to facilitate rights.

MOLOKELE: So I think in Harare today it’s a state-funded, state-administered stay-away. Stay at home and be safe but we are going to continue with the process of making sure we organise something more in Harare but for next week we are proceeding with Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo. The people of Zimbabwe must stand up and make sure that their future is guaranteed through their own personal actions At this moment in time, as the leadership we are saying we are not backing down, the struggle will continue.

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Source – ZimLive



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