A new chapter for human rights in Zimbabwe?

A KEY section of one of Zimbabwe’s most used – and most despised – anti-human rights laws, the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), has been declared unconstitutional by eight senior judges sitting as that country’s constitutional court. Among others, the section allowed for repeated month-long bans on all public demonstrations in any areas. The judgment found the section effectively gave the authorities power to nullify two important fundamental rights – to demonstrate and to petition – “completely and perpetually”.

Read judgment here

SECTION 27 of Zimbabwe’s Public Order and Security Act – a law regarded with fear and hatred by the country’s human rights community – was challenged in the high court by a number of affected organisations. 

The section allows the authorities to ban demonstrations for a month at a time, in any area, and to repeat the ban indefinitely.

A country waits: when will Zimbabwe’s constitutional court give its long-delayed decision?

PROMPT delivery of decisions is seen as so important that some African countries even discipline judges who do not give judgments within a reasonable time. But in Zimbabwe, the constitutional court has still failed to hand down a crucial judgment two years and eight months after hearing. This in a country where the maximum delay tolerated by the judicial code of ethics is six months.

WHILE the country waits, Zimbabwe’s constitutional court judges are still considering whether to tell parliament it must obey the constitution.

The court’s delay follows a case brought by the local legal information organization, Veritas, complaining that a key section of the constitution had not been implemented more than five years after the country’s supreme law came into effect in 2013.

Newspaper report leads to judge’s intervention

POLITICAL leaders often refuse to act on the basis of “mere” newspaper reports. But not Zimbabwean judge Alphas Chitakunye. He spotted a story in the media about a magistrates court trial and immediately asked for the record in the case as he feared an injustice had been done.

THE story that caught the eye of Judge Alphas Chitakunye concerned trainee nurse, Elizabeth Kalenga. The young woman had begged the court for mercy when she stood trial in connection with using forged papers to gain entrance to the training course. She pleaded with the Harare magistrate who heard her case not to impose a jail sentence as she has two young children.


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