Ncube goes to courts to fight Zim authorities

Lawyers for Trevor Ncube, owner of the Mail & Guardian, filed an urgent application in the Zimbabwe High Court on Monday against that country’s relevant authorities to explain why his passport was confiscated last week.

Ncube’s passport was confiscated after he landed in Bulawayo on Wednesday. This was a result of recent constitutional amendments in the country allowing the limiting of Zimbabwean citizenship against those the government deems harmful to the interests of the country.

Ncube told the M&G Online on Monday afternoon that he filed the application on six grounds and that the actions of the relevant authorities were:

  • unlawful self-help/spoliation;

  • it was in violation of the rules of National Justice;

  • it was irrational and grossly unreasonable;

  • it violated his right of freedom of movement, his freedom of expression and freedom of thought.

“I don’t see why they would not want to give me back my passport,” Ncube told the M&G Online on Monday morning.
“I have a very good chance.”

Ncube was one of 60 people named on a list compiled by the government to have their travel documents confiscated if they were to travel back to their homeland.

He appeared to be the first person to have his travel documents taken away from him under the new laws.

Paul Themba Nyathi, a spokesperson for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had his travel documents seized a day after Ncube, when he arrived in Zimbabwe after a two-day visit to South Africa.

Ncube, who also owns Zimbabwe’s Standard and Independent newspapers, expressed anger and shock last week, saying he did not expect his name to be on the list of targeted persons.

On Friday, the Association of Zimbabwe Journalists in the United Kingdom said in a statement to the media that it strongly condemns the actions of the Zimbabwean government.

“This act of intimidation clearly shows the government of Zimbabwe is renewing its efforts to crack down on the small but vibrant media in the country,” the association said.

“The government of Zimbabwe last August controversially amended Zimbabwe’s Constitution to allow it to withdraw travel documents from its citizens, hiding behind ‘national interest’, but has not passed an Act of Parliament setting specific guidelines as to which offences warrant the withdrawal of passports.”

NewZimbabwe.com revealed in June this year that some Zimbabwean critics of President Robert Mugabe’s regime had been hit with a travel ban. It named the following people:

  • Geoff Nyarota: Editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Daily News

  • Nqobile Nyathi: Daily News former editor

  • Lloyd Mudiwa: Journalist and former Daily News reporter

  • Basildon Peta: Journalist, working in South Africa

  • Caroline Gombakomba: Journalist, former Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation news presenter

  • Grace Kwinjeh: MDC European Union representative

  • Beatrice Mtetwa: Human rights lawyer

  • Gabriel Shumba: Human rights lawyer

  • Raymond Majongwe: Poet, trade unionist and teacher

  • Lovemore Madhuku: National constitutional Assembly chairperson

  • Brian Kagoro: Crisis Coalition chairperson

  • Noble Sibanda: Campaigner for asylum seekers in the United Kingdom

  • Strive Masiiyiwa: Businessman

  • Paul Themba Nyathi: MDC spokesperson

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