High Court judge Justice Sylvia Chirau on Saturday morning ruled that the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) can proceed with its rally scheduled for Gokwe this Saturday.
Lawyers representing CCC had filed an urgent application at the High Court after the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) purportedly cancelled the Gokwe rally at the 11th hour.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), CCC officials received a call on Friday requesting them to cancel their rally because President Emmerson Mnangagwa has his own rally in Kwekwe, 143 km away.
In court, ZRP accused CCC of lying that they had banned the opposition party rally saying “maybe, they’re no longer interested in proceeding with their own rally”.
ZLHR reported ZRP as saying they don’t even know anyone by the name Muza who purportedly called CCC banning the rally within its rank and file.
Justice Chirau on Saturday made a finding that there is no proof that the rally has been cancelled by ZRP or is likely to be cancelled.
The Judge stated that what she has is “proof that the police have authorised the rally… that authorisation has not been withdrawn or cancelled. That authorisation remains extant”.
ZRP approved the CCC rally in a letter written by ZRP Officer-In-Charge Gokwe District, Chief Superintendent Chikono, addressed to the party’s Organising Secretary in Gokwe Central Constituency, Agnes Limbani Jumo.
The letter, dated 22 February, read in part:
It is your submission that you intend to conduct a by-election campaign launch rally at Open Space opposite Runganga Service Station, Gokwe South on the 26th day of February 2022 from 1000 hours to 1700 hours.
Your notification has been noted and this office does not have any reservations subject to the following;
a) You adhere to the stated date and times.
b) You ensure that you stick to the notified venue and avoid breaching public peace or interfering with the normal life or movement of other citizens.
c) No processions or toyi-toyi to be done before, during or after the rally.
d) Should you wish to make any changes, you shall have to re-notify.
e) The provisions of Section 7 of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, Chapter 11:23 will be evoked if any of the conditions are violated.
f) You ensure that all proceedings are done within the confines of your mandate.
g) You adhere with due regards to the COVID-19 guidelines and ensure the gathering is not more than one hundred people and subjected to properly wearing of face masks, use of sanitisers, temperature screening and observing the social distancing.