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Published On: Wed, Sep 7th, 2016

Zimbabwe court says ban on protests invalid, suspends it for 7 days

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s High Court struck down on Wednesday a two-week ban on public protests issued by the police, a ruling hailed as a brave stand by the courts in the face of threats to the judiciary from President Robert Mugabe.

File: Some protesters were viciously beaten up and wounded after they were arrested during last Friday’s anti-government demonstrations in Zimbabwe.

Judge Priscilla Chigumba, who was deciding a case brought by political activists, said the official police notice issued last week after some of the worst public violence in two decades was invalid, and therefore suspended.

Mugabe’s opponents have become emboldened in the last two months by rising public anger over economic hardships including severe cash shortages, high unemployment and delays in payment of public workers.

Lawyer Tendai Biti, a former finance minister who represented the four activists, said the police commander who issued the notice had no authority and had violated the constitution.

After the ruling, Biti told reporters Chigumba had issued “a brave judgement that asserts the independence of the courts.”

On Saturday, 92-year-old Mugabe accused judges of being reckless in allowing anti-government demonstrations that later turned violent. Reuters