Rights Lawyers Challenge Protest March Ban

In a letter written to Chief Superintendent Titus Chagwedera, the Officer Commanding Harare South District, the ZCTU lawyer, Belinda Chinowawa, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the banning or prohibition of the commemoration is irregular, illegal and unconstitutional because the umbrella labour federation is a bona-fide trade union which is exempted from giving notice to the police of its intention to hold public gatherings or processions.

Chinowawa said the police should assure the ZCTU in writing by 12:00 PM on Friday that they will not disturb or interfere with the labour union’s commemorations.

The human rights lawyer said if the police do not positively respond to their letter, it shall be assumed that the threats to ban the event made to the ZCTU still stand and an application shall be made to the High Court on an urgent basis to seek relief.

The ZCTU advised the police on August 31, 2011 that they intended to hold the commemoration at a hall in the high density suburb of Kuwadzana on Saturday to remember the events that occurred on 13 September 2006, during which ZCTU leaders including Lovemore Matombo, Wellington Chibebe, Lucia Matibenga and several other unionists were severely assaulted and tortured upon arrest and in police cells. This was after they staged a demonstration protesting against poor remuneration, harassment of informal traders and lack of access to anti-retroviral drugs.

But the police in a letter dated September 13, 2011 outlawed the commemorations on the basis that there is a potential threat that the event would be hijacked by some “political malcontents and criminals”.