Anti-government activists in Zimbabwe have vowed to challenge a police ban on protests in the capital on the eve of nationwide demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe.
A coalition of opposition parties under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda is demanding reform before the 2018 election, including free access to the voters’ roll.
Police issued a month-long protest ban on September 16 about a week after a court overturned an earlier order.
Protest campaign spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the opposition parties would challenge the ban in court.
‘This is a typical comedy of errors where the state has fallen into the very same legal trap it fell into last time,’ he said. ‘A similar order was challenged before a competent court which declared it invalid and nothing is to be gained by issuing the same order again.’
Mugabe has vowed to crack down on dissent and blasted judges for “reckless” rulings allowing protests.
Promise Mkwananzi, spokesman for protest group Tajamuka, said they would march on Saturday, despite the police order.
‘The constitution and the high court allow for peaceful demonstrations,’ he said. ‘The police are promoting lawlessness in the country by banning peaceful demonstrations.’
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party won the last general election in 2013, which was marred by electoral fraud.
Opposition to the old leader’s 36-year reign has swelled in recent months with public demonstrations triggered by an economic crisis that has left banks short of cash and the government struggling to pay workers.
Two weeks ago, police arrested scores of people including activists and bystanders during violent protests in the capital.
Mugabe, 92, has often used brutal force to silence his opponents and warned the protestors last week they were ‘playing a dangerous game.’