Court upholds ban on opposition campaign launch in Zimbabwe

A Zimbabwean court on Sunday upheld a ban on the planned campaign launch by main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the third of its rallies to be banned as its leader Nelson Chamisa face hurdles on his campaign trail.

CCC was scheduled to hold its campaign launch on Sunday in Bindura, about 100 km (62 miles) north of the capital Harare, but police banned the gathering citing problems with the venue.

CCC lawyers filed an urgent application at the High Court on Friday challenging the police decision, but a judge on Sunday referred the matter back to the lower court. Bindura Magistrate Mary Musika then upheld the ban, saying CCC had failed to notify the police on time.

CCC lawyer Agency Gumbo said: “The ruling showed there is an uneven playing ground in this election. It shows that the democratic space has been eroded. We are getting into a match with both legs tied so you cannot score.”

The ruling ZANU-PF party could not immediately be reached for comment.

A handful of opposition supporters chanted party slogans as they protested outside the court, adding they were not free to support their party. Some said they had travelled all night to attend the rally.

“It is disheartening because ZANU PF is allowed to campaign freely but they are using the law to block our rallies. People now fear for their lives and this will impact our vote,” 36-year-old Patience Chigwande told reporters.

Political analysts say the elections, in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking a second term, may lose credibility if the clampdown on the opposition continues.