Magistrate Overturns Police Ban Of Political Play

The police, through Chief Superintendent R. N Masina of Bulawayo Central Police Station had banned the public performance of Rituals by Rooftop Promotions, the country’s leading theatre production group. In a letter dated 31 January 2011 and addressed to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), a board representing artists, which had notified the police on behalf of Rooftop Promotions, Masina stated that the police could not sanction the performance of the play because the government was already attending to issues of national healing through the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.

But human rights lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) instituted urgent proceedings in the form of an ex-parte application challenging the police ban of the play. The lawyers asked the Bulawayo Magistrate Rose Dube to declare as unlawful the prohibition of the drama performance and to set aside the police order prohibiting the public show of the play.

Dube granted ZLHR’s application and interdicted the police from prohibiting Rooftop Promotions from staging a theatre performance entitled “Rituals” scheduled for Wednesday at Bulawayo Polytechnic College.

Dube barred the police and their agents from disturbing or interfering in any way with the drama performance.

Dube also sanctioned Rooftop Promotions to proceed with the staging of the drama performance as scheduled and promote the organisation’s right to freedom of association and assembly as set out in the Constitution and the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution.

Rituals, which was produced and directed by Daves Guzha is a story told in panoramic fashion chronicling how community initiated cultural solutions to mitigate the effects of violence meet with serious challenges that either prevent their conclusive enactment or achievement of the desired results.