Blantyre City Council (BCC) earlier refused to grant the United Democratic Front (UDF) permission to hold the rally at the venue, but the Kennedy Makwangwala UDF camp rushed to court on Saturday and obtained an order to go ahead with the rally.
The order, according to one of the lawyers representing the party, Cassius Chidothe, was formally signed by the court Sunday morning and served on BCC and the police thereafter.
But the police were at the venue from Saturday and early Sunday morning, preventing UDF functionaries from erecting a podium and holding the rally. It was only until 11 am when the police received instructions from their superiors to immediately leave the venue.
The police also removed temporary roadblocks they had put in some parts of Blantyre townships to prevent UDF followers from getting to Njamba.
UDF sought the court injunction after BCC responded in writing that they could not be allowed to proceed with the rally, whose main speaker was Machinga North East MP and presidential aspirant,Ã‚Â Atupele Muluzi, because council officials were on holiday.
But Chidothe observed that it was funny BCC responded to the UDF letter which notified them of the rally while at the same time claiming that they were still on holiday.
Chidothe said Judge Anaclet Chipeta, who granted the injunction, did not find it convincing that BCC officials were on holiday; hence, they could not issue the permission.
Blantyre Police Station spokesperson Beatrice Mwachande said the police were only called in to maintain order, but were later served with the court instruction which they respected.
Commenting on the developments, Atupele said the councilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s refusal to grant them permission was surprising.
He said it could have been ridiculous if the authorities prevented him from holding the rally in the presence of a court order. Atupele argued the BCC action was political.
Makwangwala, UDF secretary general (SG), convened the rally immediately after the High Court in Blantyre reinstated him as the partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s SG.
A UDF faction headed by interim president Friday Jumbe, to which Makwangwala himself belonged before he jumped ship, fired him.
The rally started late because of the earlier disturbance.
1. Peaceful demonstrations are a constitutional right.
2. Section 38 of the Constitution provides that “Every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others, peacefully and unarmed.”
3.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The law also says demonstrators are only required to notify civic and police authorities about their intention to protest, but not seek permission for the demonstration.