THE magistrate court yesterday froze the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) campaign launch rally in Bindura, a move the opposition has described as unfair, unreasonable and an infringement on their constitutional right.
Scores of party supporters, who had travelled from different parts of the constituency spent the entire day yesterday at the Bindura Magistrates Court where the Nelson Chamisa-led party was seeking to have the police ban lifted.
Magistrate Maria Msika ruled that the police had not banned Chamisa’s rally, because they had no power to ban the rally, and ordered CCC to go back to the police and find an amicable solution for the rally to be held.
The rally did not take place while the ruling came in the evening yesterday, making it impossible for the opposition to proceed with its campaign plans.
“The police did not ban the CCC rally. The police have no power to ban a rally because doing so would be unconstitutional. However, the CCC did not follow due process of the law, because after receiving written notice from the police, they rushed to the courts instead of going back to the police and allowing them five days to deal with the points of concern that had been raised. Therefore, the appeal is not urgent and fails,” Msika ruled.
Agency Gumbo, a lawyer and CCC official, told the media that it was now time for the regional and international community to step in as the electoral playing field was uneven and favouring Zanu PF and its candidates.
“We are at the World Cup, but all our feet are being tied. Instead of being on the ground campaigning, we are in court making arguments while our opponents are campaigning,” Gumbo said.
“This is the time for the region and the international community to take notice.”
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As scores of CCC supporters gathered outside the court singing and dancing, Zanu PF was holding a over-subscribed music show in Chipadze at an open space without police interference.
Addressing the court, CCC lawyer Jeremiah Bamu said that the decision by the police to ban the rally was unreasonable and unconstitutional.
“My clients fielded councillors, 210 legislators and a presidential candidate and have a constitutional right to reach the electorate in all the villages and constituencies within 14 days,” Bamu said.
“Upholding the ban will deny the CCC a chance to reach the electorate and this is unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
The police argued that CCC failed to comply with the law by giving notice outside the agreed timeframe, adding that CCC had given the police two and a half days’ notice instead of three.
Msika dismissed the submission saying the CCC had complied with the law, but failed to allow the police five days to come up with a resolution on issues of security threats that may arise.
On another note, heavily armed police were deployed in Chipadze, Bindura, on Saturday evening and forced bars and shops to close ahead of what would have been the CCC campaign launch in Bindura.
Roadblocks were mounted on all roads leading to and out of the town, with police frisking cars and their occupants.