Zim Court Exonerates Duo Charged Over Draconian POSA

Filabusi, November 3, 2014 – Zimbabwean authorities have suffered a
fresh setback in their bid to justify the continued use and abuse of
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to prosecute political
opponents after a Magistrate here set free two activists.

Kaison Ncube, aged 58 years old and Zimiso Sibanda aged 39 years, who
were arrested in August and charged with contravening Section 25 of
POSA had been on trial since last month where they had been answering
to charges of convening a public gathering without notifying the
regulating authority.

Ncube and Sibanda, who are MDC-T party supporters based in Filabusi,
in Matabeleland South province, were arrested by police officers who
allegedly found them together with other party members waiting for the
arrival of officials from their party provincial offices at a bus stop
within their ward where they intended to conduct a private meeting at
one of their local party leaders’ residence.

During the trial, the State which was represented by Prosecutor Smart
Tofireyi called two witnesses who are all police officers to testify
against Ncube and Sibanda.

However, Filabusi Magistrate Mzingaye Moyo on Friday acquitted the duo
at the close of the state case after their lawyer Jonathan Tawona
Tsvangirai of Dube Tachiona and Tsvangirai Legal Practitioners, a
member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights successfully challenged
the prosecution of the two activists by arguing that the state
prosecutors had failed to put before the court any evidence that could
convince any reasonable court to convict Ncube and Sibanda.

Ncube and Sibanda are the latest citizens to score victories over
state authorities who have in recent years invoked some provisions of
POSA to arrest and prosecute several political and human rights
activists.

In August, Victoria Falls Magistrate Sheron Rosimani set free four
Bulawayo Agenda (BA) officials who had been on trial for contravening
some provisions of POSA.

In August, High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe interdicted the
police from banning some disgruntled National Railways of Zimbabwe
employees from staging protests against non-payment of their salaries
early this month.

The police had banned NRZ employees affiliated to the Zimbabwe Railway
Artisans Union, the Railway Association of Engineman and the Railway
Association of Yard Operating Staff from staging protests early in
August in Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru and Mutare to demand the payment of
their salaries.

But Justice Hungwe ruled that the purported ban of the demonstrations
by the police was unlawful and a violation of Section 58 and 59 of the
Constitution and was of no legal basis.
Zimbabwean authorities have routinely invoked some provisions of POSA
to block civil society and political party meetings and to curtail
citizens’ freedoms.

Organisations such as ZLHR have over the years campaigned for the
total repealing of the draconian law and other restrictive legislation
such as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act while the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, whose leaders have been arrested on
countless occasions for contravening POSA has also claimed that some
provisions of the law have been seriously abused to the extent of
making Zimbabwe a police State.