Zimbabwe’s high court may have lifted the ban on public demonstrations in the capital, but Zimbabwean demonstrators may still be locked in for a month.
This comes after police officers announced their plan to ban public demonstrations for a month and ignited murmurs among opposition lawyers that Zimbabwe is becoming a police state.
A police state refers to a totalitarian regime which is controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens’ activities. Zimbabwe’s police force shared their plan to ban the demonstrations in a public notice that was circulated on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe’s protesters have refused to back down from showing their discontent with the current government. The country which before hardly had instances of public protests has in the last three months seen a series of protests against the rule of 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has held power since 1980.
The protests are organized online and are organized as peaceful protests. Unfortunately, however, each protest leaves behind scores of people injured as the Zimbabwean police force intervene to curb the protesters. Firing tear gas and water cannons, or even going so far, in some instances, as beating the unarmed protesters with batons. Hence it is not difficult to understand the fears of the opposition lawyers that Zim is sliding towards a police state.
The public notice, which was published in the state-owned Herald newspaper, saw Harare police commander Newbert Saunyama announcing, “a proposed temporary prohibition order” for public demonstrations in central Harare from Sept. 16 to Oct. 15. The previous police ban had been lifted by the high court judge on the contention that it had not been issued correctly and violated the constitution.
Tendai Biti, a former finance minister and prominent lawyer who challenged the initial ban, said the law the police were using was unconstitutional. He also said;
“It is quite clear that we are now moving into a police state and it means that lawyers like myself and others we will do everything to fight back.”
There is already a plan, which was put in place on Monday, for the protesters to hold a weekend protest nationwide with or without police clearance. The goal of that particular protest is to press the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure free and fair elections in 2018.