BY TATENDA CHITAGU
A MASVINGO-BASED youth Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), whose operations in the province were suspended last week by the district administrator, has approached the High Court challenging the ban.
The government accused COTRAD, formed in 2012 and largely involved in peace-building and national healing, of involvement in the January disturbances following the fuel price hike protests.
In a letter written by assistant Masvingo district administrator Nyaradzo Tongofa dated March 11, 2019 and addressed to COTRAD, government ordered that all COTRAD activities in Masvingo district be suspended forthwith.
The letter was copied to Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Ruvai Chadzamira, provincial administrator Fungai Mbetsa and the President’s Office.
“You are not supposed to carry out any activities of any kind, whether as an organisation or involving the community in the jurisdiction of the district pending investigation on registration and approval issues of your organisation by our office,” the letter read.
But on Friday, COTRAD made an urgent chamber application at the High Court in Harare, challenging the suspension (case number 2152). The organisation is
seeking a temporary reprieve to enable them to resume operations
The district administrator was cited as first respondent, while Local Government minister July Moyo is the second respondent.
COTRAD argues that it is a lawful trust which renders service to at least 5 000 underprivileged people in Masvingo, who have been prejudiced by the suspension.
The organisation also said its operations were under the direct supervision of the ministry.
“The applicants seek an order reversing the respondents’ directive for the trust to cease operations and restoring the status quo, pending the return date on the basis that the notice of suspension reportedly issued by the first respondent against the first applicant is manifestly unlawful and of no force and effect
in that the first respondent does not have the power or authority in terms of the law to make such a decision
“There is a real risk in that the first respondent’s illegal decision will be enforced by other agencies of the State to the detriment of the first respondent and their associates,” the application read.
COTRAD said their matter was urgent as “the decision affecting the applicants was recently made on March 11 cannot wait to be on the ordinary roll as it has staff that have to be paid, obligations to be made and beneficiaries whose livelihoods are at stake”.
The organisation is being represented by lawyer Denford Halimani, acting on the instructions of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The government is yet to respond to the application.