Harare – Want to complain about Zimbabwe’s renewed ban on demonstrations and protests? Of course you can. But not via email, telephone, Facebook or Twitter.
You’ll have to write a letter, buy a stamp and hope that Zimbabwe’s antiquated postal delivery system hands over your registration of disgust some time – well, some time this month.
Or maybe next.
And don’t forget that the very controversial ban, which follows on from a two-week ban expiring Wednesday, takes effect this Friday.
Legal watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe said in a tweet: “This prohibition has not yet taken effect, it will only take effect from 16th Sept and [Zimbabwe Republic Police] have called for input beforehand.”
Analysts say the new ban is a measure of the panic longtime President Robert Mugabe’s government feels when faced with mounting unrest that just won’t go away.
A High Court judge declared the first ban unconstitutional last week but still allowed it to stand.
A close perusal of Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama’s proposed second ban on protests contained in General Notice 239 A of 2016 shows that Zimbabweans have been given the opportunity to register their objections – but in an extremely cumbersome way.
“Interested parties are invited to make any representations they may wish to make on the proposed order to the Regulating Authority of the Harare Central Police District addressed in writing to the Regulating Authority, c/o Zimbabwe Republic Police, Harare Central Police Station, corner lnez Terrace and Kenneth Kaunda Road (P.O. Box CY 154, Causeway), Harare,” the notice reads.
Presumably you can also hand deliver your objection if you feel you can brave the notorious Harare Central Police Station, where activists are sometimes told to report for questioning and then arrested, just as #ThisFlag protest pastor Evan Mawarire was on July 12.
On Twitter, government opponents are suggesting that as many Zimbabweans as possible write objections and then deliver them en masse or by registered post (which costs more than ordinary post but may ensure it gets there).
President Robert Mugabe says judges who okayed previous protests were “negligent” and “reckless”. He insists the protests are being fomented by the West.