Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
Police gazetted a ban on protests, stretching from yesterday to October 15 in compliance with High Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba’s ruling that they must first notify all stakeholders if they intend to ban demonstrations and processions in Harare. Officer Commanding Harare Central District Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, who is the regulating authority in the district, announced the ban in an extraordinary Government gazette
yesterday where he also issued a notice of the ban effective from yesterday.
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Chief Supt Saunyama cited the inadequacies in Section (26) of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17) to prevent disorder being caused by such processions. Chief Supt Saunyama yesterday said the proposed prohibition order was provided for by the law.
“The regulating authority, believing on reasonable grounds that the powers conferred by Section 26 of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11: 17) will not be sufficient to prevent public disorder being occasioned by the holding of processions or public demonstrations or any class thereof in the Harare Central Police District, hereby issues this order prohibiting, for a period of one month from Friday, the 16th September, 2016, to Saturday, the 15th October, 2016, the holding of all processions or public demonstrations or any class thereof in the Harare Central Police District,” reads the notice.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that, in terms of Section 27 (5) of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17), any person who organises or assists in organising or takes part in or attends any procession or public demonstration held in contravention of an order under Section 27 (1) of the Act shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both such fine and such imprisonment.”
This comes after police two weeks ago banned demonstrations up to September 16 in Harare, again citing inadequacies in Section (26) of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17) to prevent disorder being caused by such processions.
To effect the ban, police issued Statutory Instrument 101A, which temporarily prohibited demonstrations in the Central Business District of Harare. They also banned the carrying of catapults and axes among other weapons likely to be used to instigate violence.
However, Justice Chigumba suspended the ban following a legal challenge to the instrument mounted by Democratic Restoration Assembly (Dare), National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), Vendors Association and Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra).
The order of invalidity was, however, suspended for seven working days by Justice Priscilla Chigumba to allow the State to rectify the invalidity of the defective instrument used to ban the protests. The move by the police was necessitated by violent demonstrations by shadowy groupings linked to MDC-T and Zimbabwe People First that resulted in the destruction of property in the Central Business District.
Political parties meeting under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) also followed with another demonstration where activists wantonly destroyed property while others were engaged in a looting spree.
Innocent people and police officers on duty were not spared. President Mugabe last Friday warned violent protestors that they were “playing a dangerous game” and Government would descend heavily on anyone causing mayhem.