THE National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) was on Friday granted a court order to hold a meeting which Lupane police had declined to sanction.
The NYDT was due to hold a meeting in Lupane, but feared that the cops would disrupt it if they went ahead without their clearance and hence turned to the courts for relief.
Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights filed a court application on behalf of the NYDT seeking an order compelling the police to approve its meeting.
The police, as a regulatory authority were stated in the application as first respondent, Commissioner General of police Augustine Chihuri as second and Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi as the third respondent.
Bulawayo magistrate Evelyn Mashavakure upheld the NYDT application and ordered the police not to interfere with the meeting.
Mashavakure’s ruling read: “It is ordered that the actions of the first respondent’s office in not authorising applicant’s planned meeting are not consistent with the law they seek to administer.
“That the two prior written orders prohibiting the planned meeting by applicant be set aside as they do not state cogent grounds as provided by the Act administered by respondent one. That the applicant goes ahead with the public meeting of the 28 February 2014 at Madojwa Primary School, Lupane, as scheduled without any further notice to the respondents and promote its right to freedom of association and assembly as set out in Section 58 of the Constitution and the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Section 61 of the Constitution.”
The magistrate further said the cops, their agents or anyone acting under their instructions, are interdicted from disturbing or interfering in any way with the meeting.
“In the event that this application is granted after the 28th of February, it is hereby ordered that the applicant proceeds with the meeting to be rescheduled on another future date without notification to the respondents,” the magistrate ruled.
In its application, the NYDT submitted that on February 4, it notified the police of its intention to hold a public meeting at Lupane Council Hall to update the community on the ongoing constitutional processes.
The following day, police informed them that their meeting was not approved as police were attending to floods in the area.
NYDT rescheduled the meeting to February 15 and notified the police on February 10, but the cops disapproved the meeting citing the floods excuse again. NYDT then notified the police of its intention to hold the meeting on February 28 at Madojwa Primary School, but this time the cops did not respond. The NYDT did not hold the meeting as planned fearing that the police would disrupt it since no clearance had been granted.
Its lawyer submitted that a closer look at the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) Section 26 showed that the applicant was exempted from notifying provisions of Section 25 of the Act as it was not a political grouping.
“Thus the notice itself was just on courteous grounds rather than seeking authorisation and respondent one seems to be awarding himself powers that he does not have. The application was simply to have mutual relationship with a respondent which in this case is not forthcoming,” Jamela submitted.
He said the police had failed to show if the NYDT meeting was a threat or may result in disruption of vehicular, pedestrian traffic or cause injury to participants, public members and damage to property or any other public disorder or security threat.
“The conduct of the first respondent’s office is unlawful and a contravention of Posa Chapter 11,17,” Jamela submitted.
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