Amendments to POSA sail through Parliament

A Bill to amend the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA), passed its first hurdle on Wednesday when it sailed through the House of Assembly.

One hurdle has been overcome and we will wait to see how ZANU PF reacts to the Bill when it goes to the Senate, MDC-T chief whip and Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese said on Thursday. It also marked the first time in the countrys parliamentary history that a private members Bill sailed through the legislature.

Gonese introduced the motion to amend POSA through a private members Bill in October last year. Proposed amendments to the Act, which has curtailed basic freedoms, were passed in their entirety after the third reading. The Bill has now been transmitted to the Senate and we just hope the same spirit that prevailed during the third reading in the House of Assembly may prevail in the Senate, Gonese said. The MDC holds a slight majority in the Lower House, while ZANU PF has a huge majority in the Upper House which it uses to block legislation.

Early this week, the former ruling ZANU PF party withdrew its support for changes to POSA but the MDC managed to squeeze it past the Lower House because of its majority. POSA was made a much more restrictive law by a ZANU PF dominated parliament in 2002. The draconian legislation gives untold powers to the police and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police are responsible for the administration of the Act.

Its reported ZANU PF legislators withdrew support for the amendments after they received a tongue lashing, from Vice-President Joice Mujuru at a party caucus meeting on November 18th for supporting the proposed changes.We understand the securocrats have put some spanners into the works by influencing members to oppose the amendment Bill, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it, Gonese said.

The MDC-T party applauded its legislators for pushing through the amendments in the Lowe House, but the Bill has a good chance of being blocked in the Upper House. If it does pass through the Senate, it will still need the signature of Robert Mugabe to be signed into law. The passing of the Bill comes at a time when the people expected a new political dispensation to take root and propel the country into a new era.

With its sweeping provisions, all pointing poisoned arrows at peoples freedoms, POSA caused untold suffering to several generations of Zimbabweans who sought to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression and assembly, the MDC said. The party added that it was encouraging the inclusive government to review all retrogressive laws that curtail peoples freedoms across the board, to bring meaning to the exercise of democracy and citizens rights. In particular, all media lawsAIPPA, the Broadcasting Services Act, and the Censorship and Entertainment Actmust be repealed as a matter of urgency, the statement said.

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