Zimbabwe: Women's Group Challenge Police Ban On Planned March

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28 January 2020

Harare Magistrate Noah Gwatidzo will on Tuesday 28 January 2020 preside over the hearing of an application filed by Women's Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) seeking to overturn a ban of their march scheduled for Wednesday 29 January 2020 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)'s officers.

WALPE through its Programmes Co-ordinator Varaidzo Zhou had notified Chief Superintendent Oscar Mugomeri, the ZRP Officer Commanding Harare Central District of her organisation's intention to stage a public procession in Harare, which would culminate in 500 women petitioning Parliament demanding implementation of electoral reforms to guarantee full and effective participation of women in electoral processes as candidates and as voters.

But in a letter addressed to Zhou, Chief Superintendent Mugomeri banned WALPE's march on the basis that the organisation's Executive Director Stabile Dewah, who is currently facing charges of plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government, could "take advantage" of the event to "further" her "agenda", which Chief Superintendent Mugomeri did not elaborate.

Chief Superintendent Mugomeri said WALPE can only send some representatives to hand over its petition to the Clerk of Parliament rather than marching in the capital.

Incensed by Chief Superintendent Mugomeri's response, WALPE then engaged the services of Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who filed an application at Harare (Civil) Magistrates Court seeking to overturn the ZRP's ban of the women's march.

Magistrate Gwatidzo will preside over the determination of WALPE's application at 2:15 PM.

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