Landmark ruling …NERA to pay over US$300 000

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IN a blow to the regime change agenda, the High Court has ordered National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) to pay more than US$300 000 damages to members of the Citizens Against Violence and Anarchy Trust (CAVAAT) whose properties were destroyed during the violent demonstrations in August 2016.
This class action is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe.
NERA, a coalition group of 18 fringe opposition political parties, including MDC-T, Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), MDC, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, Transform Zimbabwe, Freedom Front, ZANU Ndonga, ADP, PDZ, Dare, ZimFirst, Zunde and FreeZim Congress, organised a violent demonstration to lobby for electoral reforms in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD).
The rowdy participants went on a rampage, looting goods from shops, burning wares at flee markets, setting ablaze vehicles and other properties.
The damage was extensive for most Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Some lost their property and business completely through looting, burning and vandalism, leaving them with no option but to close shop.
CAVAAT, a local organisation that promotes peace and business in Zimbabwe, which was being represented by Zigomo Legal Practitioners, initially demanded US$1 million compensation from NERA.
The figure was reviewed downwards to US$298 345, following assessment of damages by Commissioner Christopher Mwaturura.
On February 20 2018 CAVAAT filed a court application for default judgment and the same was granted by the court.
“It is declared that the claim for damages by the plaintiff (CAVAAT) on behalf of the individual members of the class action under case number HC5377/17 is granted,” the High Court ruled through Hon Justice Owen Tagu.
“The defendant shall pay the following damages; an aggregate sum of $298 345 as damages claimable and assessed as at October 18 2017 and the sum of $499,10 per day for all individual members of the class action whose damages have been assessed from October 19 2017 to date of judgment.
“The defendant shall pay the damages into the plaintiff’s trust account: C. Mwaturura, Steward Bank, account number 100 633 4737.
“Plaintiff be and is hereby directed to pay damages to individual members of the class action to the extent of the amount of damages claimable and assessed by the commissioner in terms of the commissioner’s report.”
CAVAAT, led by former Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Assistant-Commissioner Faustino Mazango, resolved to sue NERA for damages in a bid to assist the affected victims recover their property.
In the founding affidavit deposed by a member of CAVAAT, Elton Ziki, CAVAAT argued; NERA being the convenor, had a duty to ensure peace during the demonstration:
“The defendant, in breach of its said legal duty, failed to put in place adequate safeguard to ensure that its demonstration was peaceful and that no property belonging to private citizens was destroyed.”
In an interview with The Patriot, Ziki said, as an organisation they were happy with the ruling as it will set a precedent that demonstrations should not violate other people’s rights.
He said, initially, 88 victims had registered with the organisation but those assessed by the Commissioner were 68.
The violent demonstrations were part of the managed change formula by regime change agents.
‘Managed Change Formula’ is a regime change agenda coined by the International Crisis Group (ICG).
Managed Change Formula is a pre-programmed series of co-ordinated events taking place in different parts of the world, but timed to happen as part of a series with one event designed to influence the decisions of the next event and so on.
Violent demonstrations, instigated by NERA, were a bid to effect regime change.
Prior to the violent protests, international media was deployed to cover every form of violence against these groups for distribution to the rest of the world.
And on August 26 2016, NERA-organised violent protesters hurled stones at law enforcement agents, set tyres ablaze, burnt a vehicle and razed to the ground the popular Copacabana flea market in Harare’s CBD.
They looted shops and attacked innocent citizens in the mayhem.
The violent demonstrations were designed to influence the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to have Zimbabwe on their agenda.
It was the same week SADC had its 36th Summit in Swaziland.
The demonstrations were also designed to ensure Zimbabwe was discussed at the United Nations Security Council to force the body to impose sanctions on the country under the pretext that the country is now a threat to international peace and security.
But they failed to get the international response they desired.
And the civil society, under the banner of social movements, felt they did not do enough to catch the eye of the international community.
Apparently, the protests ‘were not bloody enough’!
They would provoke the ZRP and cry ‘gross human rights abuses’ in Zimbabwe at the international platform.
They were willing to go to any length to have Zimbabwe on the agenda.
As a result, they fabricated a social media message that a soldier had stoned a boy to death during the demonstrations.
Their hope was for many people to get injured and die in the process.
A death is a bonus as it quickly catches the attention of the international community.
Worse if the victims are children!
In the same month, at an Itai Dzamara-organised demonstration, demonstrators resorted to use of children as ‘human shields’.
Innocent children, flowers in hand, were put at the front to confront ZRP officers.
The protestors were hoping the ZRP would beat or disperse the children with teargas and water cannons and have the pictures all over the world with headlines screaming: ‘Gross human rights abuses’, but their efforts were in vain.
Riot police neither attacked the children nor adult protestors who had no police clearance, a prerequisite to holding a demonstration.
And last week, Bulawayo was rocked by MDC-T intra-party violence.
Opposition parties are thriving on violence.
They are well aware they are not capable of winning the forthcoming elections hence their resorting to violence.
They have nothing to lose in promoting the violence and in fact, it is only violence that gives them political relevance.
The recent landmark ruling on NERA, however, must be a lesson to them that violence does not pay.

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