HIGH Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe yesterday ruled that the Zimbabwe Republic Police has no power to ban demonstrations by trade unions.
Justice Hungwe made the remarks when he issued an order by consent allowing National Railways of Zimbabwe workers to stage peaceful demonstrations across the country in protest over non-payment of salaries.
The workers are owed $55 million in salary arrears spreaded over 15 months.
The workers had approached the High Court seeking an order barring the police from interfering with their activities after their planned demonstrations were blocked by the police last Saturday.
Justice Hungwe ordered that the workers proceed with their demonstrations on another future date without the interference of the police.
Joseph Mumbengegwi, from the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office, who was representing the
police, had insisted that the order should state that the workers should first notify the police before proceeding with the demonstrations.
He argued that the police were mandated with maintaining peace in the country and they could only be able to do that if they were notified of forthcoming events.
However, the workers’ lawyer Jeremiah Bamu argued that notifying the police would be outside the dictates of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
Justice Hungwe ruled that the provisions of Posa were ultra-vires [beyond the powers of] the Constitution.
The judge said it was up to the police to liaise with the leaders of the workers to ensure that peace was maintained during the demonstrations.