‘POSA bounces back as MOPA’

THERE has been a public outcry over the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill (MOPA)’s provisions, with several legal experts and opposition politicians saying the proposed legislation is a regurgitation of the outgoing oppressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

The Bill is part of government’s plans to align laws with the Constitution in order to satisfy requirements by the international community that Zimbabwe should exercise democracy.

Its new amendments are mainly to do with public gatherings and maintenance of peace and order in the country.

MDC Alliance legislator Innocent Gonese (Mutare Central), who in 2010 moved a private members’ Bill to amend POSA, described the new MOPA Bill as a law which will face rebuff by opposition MPs when it comes to Parliament because “it is not progressive at all” and is a mere replica of the draconian POSA.

“There are no changes at all in this new Bill compared to POSA. Actually, the changes are just cosmetic and it is very similar to the previous law (POSA) because we will still have the same problems of criminalisation and abuse of people who fail to notify the police when they engage in demonstrations or gatherings,” Gonese said.

“The police still have powers to prohibit meetings and this can be abused and I would describe the Bill as a regurgitation of POSA, except for that section 27 of POSA was struck down by the courts. Obviously from the opposition perspective, we will not be supporting this Bill, but unfortunately, Zanu PF will use its numbers (majority) to vote for it.

“They are trying to hoodwink the international community that they are aligning laws to the Constitution, but if you look at the MOPA, it does not speak about repealing of POSA. It should have a clause that speaks about repealing POSA.”