‘Barred and interdicted’

The Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe scored a victory of note this week. The Zimbabwe Republic Police had issued a press statement on 25 July, listing in minute detail the documents that would be required at checkpoints throughout the country, with immediate effect. But the legal organisation challenged the lawfulness of the police action and were granted an interim order barring the police from demanding the documents listed in the press statement.

In another week of high drama for Zimbabwe, the country's police issued a press statement mid-week with a long list of documents required before people would be allowed to pass police roadblocks and checkpoints.  For example, anyone working for a company or organisation would have to produce ‘Letters from Company Chief Executive Office (CEO) or General Manager (GM) stating the place, days and times of reporting on and off duty. The contact details of Chief Executive Officer to be indicated on the letter.’

However, the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe successfully petitioned the high court for an interim order to bar the police from enforcing these requirements. Until the return date, on which the validity of the enabling instruments will be argued, the court has ‘barred and interdicted’ the police from giving effect to the requirements for passage at roadblocks stipulated in the original press statement. As the court order put it: ‘Respondents are hereby interdicted from demanding from the public, the requirements listed in the press statement issued by the Zimbabwe Republic Police on 25 July 2020.’

The YLAZ argued that the police had acted outside their power by demanding that anyone going to work had to produce certain documents in order to be allowed through police roadblocks. While the police notice said that their requirement for documents to be produced on demand was to prevent the spread of Covid-19, it is widely seen as part of the general crackdown on fundamental rights being experienced in Zimbabwe.