Justice Muremba Reserves Judgement On Muguti NGO Ban Matter
Harare High Court Judge, Justice Esther Muremba, on 13 August 2021 heard an urgent chamber application filed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (“The Forum”) together with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition against the Provincial Development Coordinator (“PDC”) for Harare Metropolitan Province Tafadzwa Muguti.
The NGOs approached the High Court on an urgent basis, challenging the PDC’s authority to ban the operations of all NGOs who had not complied with his earlier directive to submit work plans to his office.
Muguti had on 30 June 2021 issued a statement directing all NGOs to submit 2021 work plans, information on workshops, commissioning of projects, monthly reports, and all pertinent information to his office.
Subsequently, on 29 July 2021, Muguti had then issued another statement banning the operations of all NGOs that had not complied with his directive.
The Applicants challenged the directive on the basis that Muguti did not have such authority to act as such and sought an order invalidating his statement Muguti did not file a Notice of Opposition but the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, purportedly acting on his behalf, had filed one and in court raised preliminary points on the basis that the matter was not urgent, and that the Applicant had used the wrong form. He further argued on the merits that Muguti had requisite powers.
The Applicants’ lawyer, Mr Denford Halimani argued that the matter was urgent on the basis of the imminent threat by Muguti to ban the operations of the NGOs.
On the merits, Halimani submitted that Muguti’s office does not exist in terms of existing law and his actions violate fundamental Constitutional rights to privacy, administrative justice and the right to protection of the law.
Justice Muremba reserved judgement in the matter.
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