Zimbabwe police beat up protesters and block off the site of an opposition rally in Harare, despite High Court backing.
Zimbabwe’s High Court has overturned a two-week ban on protests in the capital following a legal challenge from political activists.
Police banned rallies in Harare and the surrounding district on Thursday, after several violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in recent weeks.
But Judge Priscilla Chigumba said on Wednesday that the official police note issued last week was “invalid” and curtailed citizens’ rights.
“The court has said the ban was unlawful,” lawyer Tendai Biti, a former finance minister who represented the activists, told journalists following the verdict.
Biti also said that the court had delivered “a brave judgment that asserts the independence” of the judiciary.
Zimbabwe has seen months of protests against alleged human rights abuses and the deterioration of the economy under President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1980.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from the High Court in Harare, said some protesters were planning to go back to the streets as soon as this week.
“Their message is that they are unhappy with President Robert Mugabe; they say the economy is being run down, and some even say it’s time for him to go.”
Earlier this week, Mugabe accused the country’s judiciary courts of being reckless in allowing several anti-government protests that later turned violent.
“We can’t allow that to continue, [to have] these violent demonstrations unimpeded. No. Enough is enough,” Mugabe said.
On Friday, a different court denied bail to 58 people arrested during protests on August 26 when riot police fired tear gas, beat up several people and blocked off the site of an opposition demonstration in Harare.
In the same demonstration, protesters threw stones at police while some set tyres ablaze and pulled down the sign for a street named after Mugabe.