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ZIMBABWEAN authorities are increasingly invoking some obnoxious provisions of the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) Act to curtail citizens from exercising and enjoying their fundamental rights particularly freedom of assembly and association.
At Beitbridge Magistrates Court, Elliot Mabeza, a resident, was recently set free on ZWL10 000 bail after he appeared in court charged with failure to give notice to Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers of a gathering as defined in Section 7(1)(a) of the MOPO Act.
The 53 year-old Mabeza, who was arrested on 29 March 2022, was accused of organising a political campaign rally for the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party which was held on 13 March 2022 during the run-up to by-elections which were held on 26 March 2022.
Prosecutors charged that Mabeza failed to give notice of a public gathering held in Dulibadzimu suburb on 12 March 2022, wherein he allegedly convened a procession of opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party supporters, who used several vehicles to mobilise people to attend the campaign rally, which was addressed by Nelson Chamisa, the opposition party’s leader.
Apart from paying ZWL10 000 bail, Mabeza, who was represented by Patrick Tererai of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was also ordered to report at a police station once per fortnight, not to interfere with State witnesses and to continue residing at his given residential address.
He returns to court on 27 April 2022.
In Chegutu, Magistrate Paul Mudonhi recently set free two residents Edson Muzira and Regis Mhishi on ZWL10 000 bail each after they were arrested and charged for contravening Section 7(1)(a) of MOPO Act as read with Section 5 of MOPO Act.
Prosecutor Gracious Chimuka accused Muzira and Mhishi of mobilising about 100 Citizens Coalition for Change party supporters and leading a public procession or public meeting without notifying some ZRP officers.
Chimuka alleged that Muzira and Mhishi, who were represented by Douglas Chikwangwani of ZLHR, used a public address system in Rimuka suburb to chant their party slogans and addressing the gathering while campaigning for Citizens Coalition for Change political party.
Magistrate Mudonhi also granted ZWL5 000 bail to two other Kadoma residents Nhamo Makaza and Dennis Murombedzi who appeared in court answering to charges of disorderly conduct in a public place as defined in Section 41(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Makaza was accused of making noise with a public address system while campaigning for the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change political party.
In Murombedzi’s case, he was accused of filming or taking videos and pictures using an Itel mobile phone handset of police officers, who were on duty in Rimuka suburb and tasked with maintaining peace and order with the intention of provoking the breach of peace.
In Masvingo, three residents namely Vigisai Norupandai, Aleck Tabe and Magie Chakabuda, were also charged with contravening Section 7(5) of MOPO Act for allegedly failing to notify ZRP officers of a Citizens Coalition for Change political party meeting held at Aphiri Vegetable Market.
Norupandai aged 53 years, Tabe aged 38 years and Chakabuda aged 62 years, who were represented by Phillip Shumba of ZLHR, were set free on ZWL5 000 bail each by Masvingo Magistrate Patience Madondo and were ordered not to interfere with State witnesses as part of their bail conditions.
Robert Tapfumaneyi