By Nkosana Dlamini
The High Court has barred Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti from interfering with the affairs of Non-Governmental Organisations in the metropolitan province.
This follows a ban issued by the under-fire provincial boss on all NGOs that defied his directive to submit their workplans to his office as ordered earlier this year.
On behalf of the NGOs, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Trust took Muguti to court arguing there was no clause in the country’s laws empowering the meddlesome provincial chief to issue such orders, let alone a ban on their operations.
Listed as first respondent was Muguti, Harare Minister of State for Provincial Affairs (second), Local Government Minister (third), Home Affairs Minister (fourth) and Public Service Minister (fifth).
In the judgement, Justice Muremba barred Muguti from meddling in the affairs of NGOs.
“The Act has not yet been amended to incorporate the First Respondent’s position. Until such a time that is done, the first respondent cannot issue directives to NGOs and purport to police them.
“In view of the foregoing, I find merit in the applicants’ application for an interdict pending the return day.
“They have made out a prima facie case establishing the constitutional rights that are likely to be infringed which NGOs have an inherent interest in. there is a reasonable apprehension of harm in that the operations of NGos will be disrupted or stopped as per the press statement of the first respondent.”
Justice Chiremba added, “The balance of convenience favours the granting of the interdict.
“No prejudice will be suffered by the respondents if the interdict is granted pending the return day.
“On the other hand, the applicants or the NGOs stand to suffer irreparable harm if the interdict is not granted as operations may be stopped at anytime as threatened by the first respondent.
“It is hereby ordered that…pending confirmation or discharge of this provisional order, the applicants are granted the following interim; the respondents and all their agents or anyone acting on their behalf are interdicted from enforcing; interfering with, suspending or stopping operations of Non-Governmental Organizations, Trusts, Civil Society Organisations, or in anyway acting on the contents of the press statement dated 29 July by 1st respondent.”