BILL WATCH 43/2016
[14th September 2016]
Police Prepare to Recycle SI 101A with a Two-Month Ban on Demonstrations
The following notice appeared in yesterday's [13th September] issue of The Herald —
“NOTICE OF PROPOSED PROHIBITION ORDER
I, CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT NEWBERT SAUNYAMA, BEING THE OFFICER COMMANDING POLICE HARARE CENTRAL DISTRICT AND THEREFORE THE REGULATING AUTHORITY OF THE AREA HEREBY ISSUES A NOTICE OF A PROPOSED TEMPORARY PROHIBITION ORDER OF THE HOLDING OF PUBLIC DEMOSTRATIONS AND PROCESSIONS OR ANY CLASS THEREOF IN TERMS OF SECTION 27 (2) (a) PUBLIC ORDER AND SECURITY ACT, [CHAPTER 11:17], IN THE HARARE CENTRAL POLICING DISTRICT, THAT IS THE AREA BOUNDED BY CUMBERLAND, ENTERPISE ROAD, CHURCHHILL, SWANDRIVE, CORK ROAD, SANDRINGHAM, DRIVE, DRAMMOND CHAPLIN, MARIMBA STREAM, COVENTRY ROAD, ROTTEN ROW, NATIONAL RAILWAYS OF ZIMBABWE LINE UP TO MUKUVISI RIVER AND BACK TO CUMBERLAND FOR A PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING ONE MONTH THAT IS FROM 16TH OF SEPTEMBER 2016 to 15th OCTOBER 2016.
ALL STAKEHOLDERS ARE ACCORDINGLY ADVISED.
SIGNED NEWBERT SAUNYAMA
Inserted by Zimbabwe Republic Police”
[Scan of the notice with official stamp and signature is available via this link to the Veritas website]
An equivalent notice was published in the Gazette late yesterday afternoon in General Notice 239A/2016. The Gazette notice is more more competently drafted than the Herald one. It sets out the relevant provisions of the Public Order and Security Act [POSA] and invites interested parties to send written representations about the proposed prohibition order to the Regulating Authority.
[Scan of the notice gazetted today 14th Tuesday is available via this link to the Veritas website.]
The notices do not prohibit anything
This is an obvious point, but it must be made to avoid the doubt created by misleading press headlines such as “Police issue fresh demo ban”. The notices are an advance warning that the Police propose to issue a new order prohibiting public demonstrations and processions with effect from Friday 16th September.
What is the purpose of the notices?
By publishing the notices, Chief Supt Saunyama is making an effort to comply with section 27(2) of POSA. The section states that “whenever it is practicable to do so” a regulating authority [i.e. a police officer who is empowered to ban processions and demonstrations] must:
- publish notice of the proposed ban in the Gazette and in a newspaper circulating in the area affected by the ban,
- give notice of the proposed ban to anyone whom the police officer believes is likely to organise a procession or public demonstration that will be affected by the ban, and
- afford all interested persons a reasonable opportunity to make representations in the matter.
Chief Supt Saunyama’s failure to follow section 27(2) before his first prohibition order in SI 101A/2016 was one of the factors that resulted in Justice Chigumba declaring the SI invalid on 7th September. Justice Chigumba, however, said the SI would remain in force for seven working days to allow the Chief Superintendent time to correct defects in it – in other words, contrary to press reports, the ban on demonstrations was not lifted. That seven-day period will expire at midnight on Thursday 15th September. [Copy of Justice Chigumba’s order available via this link to the Veritas website.]
Chief Supt Saunyama’s intention is to publish a new prohibition order on Friday 16th September so that there will be a seamless transition from the first prohibition to the new one, which will last until 15th October.
Do yesterday’s notices comply with section 27(2) of POSA?
Chief Supt Saunyama has complied with section 27(2) of POSA to the extent of publishing notices in the Gazette and in a newspaper. It is not known if he has also notified political parties likely to be affected by the proposed prohibition order.
Although the Herald notice does not suggest that Chief Supt Saunyama will entertain representations from interested parties, as required by section 27(2), the Gazette notice does, as indicated above. Whether this discrepancy between the two notices will affect the validity of the ultimate prohibition order remains to be seen, when political parties challenge the order in court – as they have said they will do.
The area of the proposed ban, as specified in the two notices, gives cause for concern. The area is said to be the Harare Central Police District but its boundaries are not described as precisely as they should have been. Indeed, the description is probably not good enough for legal purposes, because it requires more than a little imagination to read it as a continuous boundary line. Giving the description the benefit of all doubts, the area includes the whole of the Central Business District of Harare, portions of Eastlea and Gun Hill, the whole of Milton Park, Belvedere and Ridgeview, the Showgrounds, and the area between the Showgrounds and Rotten Row all the way up to Coventry Road. A map of the area – or what may be assumed to be the intended area – is available via this link.
Can representations be made about the proposed order?
Yes, although the time for doing so is short. Representations should be made in writing to Chief Supt Saunyama at the address specified in the Gazette notice, i.e. Harare Central Police Station, corner Inez Terrace and Kenneth Kaunda Avenue, Harare (or P.O. Box CY 154, Causeway). Although section 27(2) of POSA does not go on to say so, what is clearly implied in the section is that Mr Saunyama must give careful consideration to representations received before he makes his final decision.
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