FULL TEXT: MDC Speaks On MOPA Replacement Bill After Amendments

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FULL TEXT: MDC Speaks On MOPA Replacement Bill After Amendments

MDC bemoans the Passing of POSA Replica

The passage of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill in the early hours of the morning on the 9th of August 2019 is reminiscent of the same cavalier manner and approach used to rail road the Act it’s supposed to replace, namely the dreaded Public Order and Security Act which has been used to suppress the rights of Zimbabweans since the turn of the century.

We have a sense of deja vu as history is repeating itself as we went through a similar charade when POSA replaced LOMA or the Law and Order Maintainance Act to give it its full title. Apart from its resemblance to POSA, MOPA, like its predecessor borrows heavily from the apartheid laws and in some instances the clauses are a replica of the Regulation of Public Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 which was passed before that country’s independence. We are therefore being taken back to the dark era of repression.

We in the MDC cherish the upholding of the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution and in particular Sections 58 and 59 which relate to freedoms of association, assembly, demonstration and petition. In this regard, we believe that there should be very little interference in the enjoyment of these rights and any limitation under Section 86 of the Constitution must be reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice and other factors which are clearly spelt out in the limitation clause.

As the MDC it is our considered view that the Bill which has been transmitted to the Senate falls short in this regard. We condemn in the strongest terms the attempt to hoodwink Zimbabweans and the internaiona community that there is a reform agenda being implemented in Zimbabwe. We say so fully aware that the passage of this Bill is meant to play to the gallery and pretend that the regime is repealing repressive laws when what is being done is simply changing the name and throwing in the word peace to make it more palatable.

The mischief of POSA lies in the abuse of the powers bestowed on the Regulating Authority which have largely been left intact and the criminalization of the failure to give notice. It gives us no comfort to note that the Police have not been transformed into a Service and they still behave as a Force. Giving powers to such a comprised entity to curtail rights and deny enjoyment of the same without a court order and placing the burden on citizens instead of the other way round is one of the weaknesses which our Legislators tried in vain to correct. Another blight is the imposition of some civil liability without the benefit of a full civil trial.

In spite of the Amendments largely brought about by the Adverse Report of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, most of the clauses in the Bill remain a replica of POSA and sight should not be lost of the fact that at time of enactment of POSA, we did not have the progressive Bill of Rights that is now in the current Constitution.

There is therefore nothing to celebrate and there is every reason to bemoan the resurrection of POSA, albeit under a benign name meant to cover the eyes of the people of Zimbabwe and hence our position that a mere change of name does not alter the DNA of an animal.

Under an MDC government, all the ugly elements of obnoxious laws such as POSA and AIPPA will be totally removed and not the cosmetic changes that we have witnessed and Zimbabweans will be able to fully enjoy their rights as enshrined in our democratic and progressive constitution.
We call for the institution and implementation of comprehensive reform agenda that must be a precursor to the holding of a free, fair and credible election so that Zimbabwe breaks free from the cycle of disputed elections. These disputed elections have bred illegitimate outcomes.

The economic challenges epitomized by power and fuel shortages are just but symptoms of a deep-seated political crisis stemming from a stolen election. Only a comprehensive reform agenda and a truly free and fair election remain the way forward for Zimbabwe.

MDC: Change that delivers.

Innocent Gonese
MDC Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs



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