from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWEAN police have banned a march by hundreds of women advocating for electoral reforms and the participation of females in election processes.
The march would have culminated in 500 women petitioning Parliament on Wednesday.
Authorities justified the ban on the basis that the executive director of the organisation planning the march, Women’s Academy or Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE), is currently facing charges of plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Stabile Dewa (34) is facing the allegations.
Chief Superintendent Oscar Mugomeri, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Officer Commanding the capital Harare, argued Dewa could take advantage of the event to further her “agenda.”
Mugomeri said WALPE must only send some representatives to hand over its petition to the Clerk of Parliament rather than marching in the capital.
WALPE has since approached the Harare Magistrates Court seeking to overturn the ban of the march.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is representing the women’s organisation.
Zimbabwean police have a history of barring activities by civil society groups and opposition parties.
Dewa is one of several activists arrested upon their return from a workshop in the Maldives last year.
Authorities alleged the workshop discussed the overthrow of the government in the wake of the deepening economic and political crises.
These accusations were the hallmark of the presidency of Robert Mugabe, now late, between 1980 and 2017.
Critics accuse Mnangagwa of retaining Mugabe’s iron fist despite his commitment to uphold human rights when he succeeded him after a military coup.
– CAJ News