The government is conducting nation wide surveys to gather the views of people regarding whether to amend sections of the law or repeal it all together. It has been revealed that to gain support for the law, members of the police force are attending the meetings in huge numbers, in civilian clothes to defend POSA. At Nehanda Hall last Friday, known police officers in plain clothes, dominated proceedings by expressing views supportive of the notorious legislation. They said the law offers protection to private lives and there was no need for it to be repealed or amended.
POSA was introduced in 2002 ‘mainly’ to limit Zimbabweans’ freedom of assembly in face of rising popularity of the MDC. Zanu (PF) continues to manipulate and foil programmes aimed at improving human rights. The former ruling party is also frustrating efforts to make a new people-driven constitution. A senior resident, Masimba Ruzvidzo, quizzed the parliamentary committee headed by Henry Madzore (MDC-T), as to why only the MDC was required under POSA, to apply for authority to hold meetings instead of just notifying the police.
“Why are the police acting like an authorizing body when people intend to hold meetings? We understand the police have to be notified, not to be asked for authority when people want to hold a gathering. The period of notification must be reduced from seven days to four or three. In fact, people must gather freely without interference from the police. If necessary, the police must monitor proceedings from a distance not to be part of the gathering,” said Ruzvidzo.
Ruzvidzo added police had a tendency of suggesting venue for meetings. He suggested the hosting party must have a right to choose venue. Another resident, Charles Chitaguda, told the parliamentary committee it was important for people to be educated on why and when POSA was introduced. He said the law was imposed on the people in 2002, to curtail people’s freedom as the MDC had become popular. “POSA was imposed without consulting people. Why are you seeking public input into the draconian law at tax payers’ expense. We know the law was promulgated to disadvantage the MDC,” Chitaguda said.
Zanu (PF) supporters said POSA was good for the country. They indicated the law protects people’s freedoms, which could be violated by rowdy crowds. “Police must control and monitor public gatherings. If left unchecked, rowdy crowds can endanger lives of innocent people,” said a Zanu (PF) supporter. The majority of participants expressed desire for POSA to be repealed. They said the law would have been healthy for the country, if it was not applied selectively.Post published in: News