Zimbabwe opposition goes to court over denied protest

HARARE,– Zimbabwe opposition parties have gone to the court seeking an overturn of a police ban against their planned march in Harare this Friday to push for electoral reforms before the 2018 national elections.

Operating under the banner of the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA), opposition parties including those led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai want President Robert Mugabe’s government to implement reforms to ensure free and fair polls.

The police authority, however, turned down their request for the protest march, saying it would disrupt traffic and asking the parties to instead submit petition to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

A member of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) and NERA legal team Douglas Mwonzora told reporters Thursday that they were confident the court would give them the green light to hold the march.

“We have gone to the court and we are expecting a hearing anytime this evening. We are taking this matter to court to make sure police don’t disturb the peaceful demonstration and to make sure they provide adequate security to the demonstrators,” he said.

About 150,000 people are expected to take part in the march before they are to be addressed by the leaders of the opposition parties.

Earlier, a senior member of Mujuru’s ZimPF party Didymus Mutasa, who is also former state security minister in Mugabe’s government, told reporters that apart from electoral reforms, the opposition parties also wanted the electoral body to announce a clear road map for the next elections.

“We call upon Zimbabweans to come out in their numbers to support this legitimate cause of demanding a truly free and fair election,” he said.

Among others, NERA wants the electoral body to introduce biometric voter register, total independence of ZEC and to ensure the 2018 polls are internationally run and supervised by the United Nations. Enditem

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