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  • Truth, justice, reconciliation and national healing - Index of articles

  • Magistrate quashes police ban on national healing play after ZLHR's intervention
    Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

    September 14, 2011

    Bulawayo Magistrate, Tancy Dube, on Wednesday 14 September 2011 quashed a police ban on a national healing theatre play aimed at exhorting peace and reconciliation after years of conflict in Zimbabwe.

    The interdict came after Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) instituted urgent proceedings in the form of an ex-parte application challenging the police ban of the play entitled "1983, the years before and after, a play on the past disturbances seeking to establish true National Healing, true peace and true reconciliation," scheduled for Friday 16 September 2011 at Bulawayo Theatre.

    The police had on 12 September 2011, four days before the scheduled drama performance banned the public performance of the national healing play by the Gwanda-based Jahunda Community Theatre group without giving any reasons for their actions.

    But Jamela on 14 September 2011 filed an ex-parte application seeking to declare as unlawful the prohibition of the drama performance and to set aside the police order prohibiting the public show of the play which was granted by Magistrate Dube.

    Magistrate Dube barred the police from disturbing or interfering in any way with the drama performance to be held on Friday 16 September at Bulawayo Theatre.

    The Magistrate sanctioned Jahunda Community Theatre to proceed with the drama performance as scheduled so as to promote the organisation's right to freedom of association and assembly as set out in Section 21 of the Constitution and the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Section 20 of the Constitution.

    In his application, Jamela argued that the actions of the police in prohibiting the play infringes on the right to freedom of assembly and association enshrined in Section 21 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as the freedom of expression enshrined in Section 20 of the Constitution which cannot be arbitrarily or unreasonably taken way by any person. In addition, the theatre group is exempted from notifying the police about its activities as it is not a political grouping, thus the notice which Jahunda Community Theatre served on the police was just on courteous grounds rather than seeking authorisation.

    The human rights lawyer argued that the Bhekumusa Moyo-led Jahunda Community Theatre had a democratic right to freely perform theatrical arts without being hindered by anyone including the police since they were not committing any offence.

    The police, Jamela said had not shown that the proposed drama performance would result in the disruption of vehicular, pedestrian traffic or cause injury to the participants, public members, damage to property or any other public disorder or security threat.

    This is the second time this year that ZLHR has intervened in defence of artists' expression in Matabeleland Provinces.

    In February, Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa also of ZLHR fought on behalf of Rooftop Promotions and obtained an interdict from Magistrate Rose Dube barring the police from prohibiting the country's leading theatre production group from staging a theatre performance entitled "Rituals".

    The police through Chief Superintendent R. N Masina of Bulawayo Central Police Station had banned the public performance of Rituals by Rooftop Promotions on the basis that they could not sanction the performance of the play because the government was already attending to issues of national healing through the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.

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