President Robert Mugabe on Saturday described as reckless and negligent judges who make rulings in favour of anti-government protests, who he accused of causing violence.
On several occasions, protesters have had to apply to the High Court to have their demonstrations cleared after police refusal.
Police recently torched violence on demonstrations by using excessive forced to disperse protesters in spite of High Court orders.
Mugabe, though, said judges must not clear the protests because they have turned violent in the recent past.
Mugabe made the remarks as he addressed the Zanu PF youth wing in Harare, hailing the ruling party assembly for “restraining” itself against what he said was provocation by the protesters.
The protesters, however, have been calling on government to institute electoral reforms, reverse the current economic crisis and end a new wave of human rights abuses.
“Our courts, our justice system, our judges should be the ones who understand even better than the ordinary citizens. They dare not be negligent in their decisions when requests are made by people who want to demonstrate, to hold these demonstrations.
In light of the violence that we had earlier on, surely they should have taken note to the fact that when permission was given four days ago, there was violence; when it was given two days ago, there was violence.
“To give permission again when they (judges) are to the full knowledge that it is going to be violent or (there is a) probability that there is going to be violence is to pay reckless disregard to the peace of this country. We hope now they have learnt a lesson (the judges),” said Mugabe.
There is fear that the judges, who Mugabe appoints, will stop making fair judgments on protest applications in the wake of the president’s statements and as government has already banned protests in Harare till 16 September.
Citizens, under the constitution, have a right to demonstrate peacefully or make petitions.
But the Mugabe establishment has been shaken by a wave of restless protests since July as citizens demonstrated against unpopular policies that include a ban on imports, State-sponsored persecution of human rights activists, corruption and an ailing economy.
Government has branded as terrorists, protest leaders using social media to mobilise demonstrations and is railroading a Cyber Crime and Computer Crime bill to rein in perceived dissidents.
Mugabe, while addressing the party youths who have been conscripted to support his continued stay in power, hailed the bill.
“Social media should never be used negatively… That is rubbish, get out of it. We should not be part of it. We should remain clean, clean, clean. I am happy that the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services is crafting a law to guide the proper use of social media,” said Mugabe