Zimbabwe: Court Deals Blow to MDC Demo Ban Challenge

The MDC Friday suffered another blow to its bid to force the reversal of a police ban on its demonstration when the High Court dismissed a chamber application filed Friday by the main opposition.

High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa dismissed MDC application before he referring lawyers back to the magistrate's court to appeal.

Police Thursday night issued a prohibition order against the MDC citing some intelligence gathered the protest was going to turn violent.

Although Mnangagwa and his party top officials had indicated they had no problems with a demonstration against their own government, MDC party leaders blamed the upper court's ruling on the "Junta" government.

MDC vice president Tendai Biti felt the judgment was politically influenced by "the junta".

"We were within our rights to make our chamber application. We appeared this morning before Musakwa. We argued comprehensively that the issuance of the police prohibiting order was unlawful," said Biti soon after the judgement was delivered.

"The order must be made within seven days from the day a notification is made. Notification was given on the 5th of August so the seven days lapsed on the 12th."

Biti added, "We differ with the ruling of the High Court. The High Court is the home of original and superior jurisdiction... but we differ respectfully with its ruling. We will not appeal at the magistrates' court because we do not accept the correctness of the ruling with great respect."

The Harare East lawmaker and lawyer however said the party would proceed with its intended marches in other cities but urged people in the capital city to stay at home in order to be safe.

"We are now going to proceed with our intended marches in Bulawayo on Monday the 19th, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare.

"Today the true colour of the said new dispensation was exposed. The Constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate in terms of Section 69. The right to freedom of association yet this regime has denied the same right to the people of Zimbabwe. Even with a court order, this demo was not going to proceed."

He said all people leading to Harare have been blocked with arrests being on people who are trying to get in town.

MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele said heavily armed police have cordoned off all the major roads leading into the city centre to stop people from attending the demonstration.

"The junta has also deployed a huge police contingent at both the Africa Unity Square and the MDC headquarters. This effectively means that the junta has now forcibly declared a total shutdown of Harare today. So for now the people must remain calm, avoid any form of violence and stay safely at home.

"ln the meantime, the preparations will continue for the other already planned people's marches to be held at Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo. The time has come for the people of Zimbabwe to take charge of their future and democratic destiny," Molokele said.

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