Police block planned Alex Magaisa memorial

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Republic Police has turned down a notification by peace-based NGO, Heal Zimbabwe Trust to hold a candle lit commemoration in Harare this Saturday in honour of late renowned Constitutional Law lawyer and human rights defender Alex Magaisa.

Magaisa, a former advisor to late ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday in his United Kingdom base.

He had unsettled the State with his razor-sharp interpretation of the Zanu PF led government’s cunning political manoeuvres through his popular blog, Big Saturday Read.

His death has been received with an outpouring of grief within Zimbabwe and abroad with the opposition and civil society groups expressing sadness over the subtraction of a sharp constitutional law mind from the country’s democratic struggle.

To honour his works, Heal Zimbabwe Trust planned a candle lit memorial for this Saturday, which has since been blocked by police who cited lack of compliance with relevant statutes.

“Your notification letter dated 9 June 2022 to hold a candle lighting commemoration of Dr Alex Magaisa on the 11th of June at Harare Gardens from 1200 hours to 1500 hours has been noted.

“I am not in a position to sanction the gathering. You did not comply with Section 7 (1) (a) of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Chapter 11:23,” said Officer Commanding Police Harare Central District Chief Superintendent G. Moyo in correspondence to the NGO.

The cited statute says, “The convener shall not later than (a) seven days before the date on which a procession or public demonstration is to be held, give notice of the procession or public demonstration in writing signed by him or her to the regulating authority for the district in which the procession or public demonstration is to be held”.

Responding to the police during an interview with ZimLive on Thursday, Heal Zimbabwe Trust executive director Rashid Mahiya fumed over what he found to be the State’s insensitivity to a people in mourning.

“It’s a funeral, you can’t predict the number of days somebody has to die,” Mahiya said.

“Even surprising is that we notified the police of intention to march but they said ‘we are not allowing marches anywhere anytime’ but said we could go ahead with the commemoration at Harare Gardens.

“We are surprised they have changed that again.

“This was intended to allow members of the public to share sympathy with the late Magaisa and his family.

“I don’t understand how the State would say do not sit down and mourn.

“You can’t create an environment where people are stopped from mourning yet there are some instances where in the case of other people’s deaths, the whole nation is put to a standstill to mourn. This is absurd.”

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