The High Court has nullified Harare Provincial Development Coordinator, Tafadzwa Muguti’s decision to ban some non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) after they failed to submit their work plans as he had directed them to do.
In an urgent chamber application filed on 3 August, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Trust, a mother body of NGOs said the directive was unconstitutional.
Muguti, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Harare Metropolitan Province, Local government minister, Home affairs minister, Public Service minister were all cited as respondents.
In its ruling handed down this Friday, the High Court said the applicants had made out a prima facie case establishing that their constitutional rights had been violated by Muguti’s directive. The ruling read in part:
As already discussed above, 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.
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 and NGOs stand to suffer irreparable harm if the interdict is not granted as operations may be stopped at any time as threatened by the first respondent.
The High Court ordered Muguti to refrain “from enforcing: interfering with, suspending or stopping operations of Non-Governmental Organizations, Trusts, Civil Society Organizations and Faith-Based Organizations…”