Zimbabwe bank workers challenge police ban of protest against finance minister’s austerity measures

By Wallace Mawire

THE Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) on Wednesday 27
November 2019 filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court
seeking an order to overturn the ban of the labour union’s
demonstration by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

ZRP through Chief Superintendent Oscar Mugomeri, the Officer
Commanding ZRP Regulating Authority in Harare Central District, on
Tuesday 26 November 2019 banned ZIBAWU from staging its demonstration
in Harare scheduled for Thursday 28 November 2019 from 12:30 PM to
14:30 PM, where the labour union sought to protest and hand over a
petition to Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube’s
unfavourable policies and austerity measures which have brought
immeasurable suffering to workers in the banking sector and the
generality of workers in Zimbabwe.

ZIBAWU said workers can no longer afford to pay transport cost, decent
meals, medication, rentals, school fees and other basic necessities.

But Chief Superintendent Mugomeri on Tuesday 26 November 2019 banned
ZIBAWU from proceeding with its demonstration saying he could not
sanction the protest because of the current “volatile” situation in
Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) and that the demonstration
would be hijacked by some unnamed vendors, political parties and
pressure groups.

Chief Superintendent Mugomeri claimed that the volume of both human
and vehicle traffic in the CBD has “tremendously increased as we are
already in the festive season, hence the chances that your intended
demonstration will be taken advantage of by some malcontents and rogue
elements are very high”.

After the ZRP ban, ZIBAWU through its lawyer Alec Muchadehama of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, filed an urgent chamber application
at the High Court seeking an order to interdict ZRP or anyone acting
through them or on their behalf from interfering with the bank
workers’ demonstration.

In the application, ZIBAWU argued that Chief Superintendent Mugomeri
has no right to ban the labour union’s demonstration as ZIBAWU is
allowed to demonstrate and petition under the provisions of the
Constitution particularly Section 58, which provides for freedom of
assembly and association, Section 59, which guarantees freedom to
demonstration and petition, Section 61, which provides for freedom of
expression and Section 65 which provides for labour rights.

The labour union argued that the enjoyment of its members’ fundamental
rights and freedoms cannot be prevented by the unlawful, whimsical,
arbitrary and capricious actions of Chief Superintendent Mugomeri and
those acting under his instructions or on his behalf.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.

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