HomeLocal NewsZanu PF, MDC join hands against Posa

Zanu PF, MDC join hands against Posa

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In a major volte face, Zanu PF MPs who have in the past dug in their heels against any amendment to the Public Order and Security Amendment Bill meant to sweeten the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa) on Tuesday agreed the oppressive law should be amended.

POSA is a repressive law borne out of the colonial Law and Order (Maintenance) Act (Loma), which was crafted by the Ian Smith regime to suppress freedom of expression, movement and opposition politics by Africans.

After independence in 1980 however, the Zanu PF government did not remove the oppressive provisions of the Act but simply amended and kept most of it for a rainy day.

And indeed Posa has been used to suppress basic freedoms especially political gatherings by the MDCs where the police have denied them those rights arguing the political parties needed to seek permission from them instead of simple notification.

Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga (Zanu PF) and Mberengwa East MP Makhosini Hlongwane (Zanu PF) said the proposed amendments to Posa were a welcome move that would guarantee that freedom of assembly and speech as well as other freedoms were not trampled upon.

The lawmakers made the remarks during the Second Reading Stage of the Public Order and Security Amendment Bill, which was brought to the House of Assembly as a private member’s Bill by MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese.

The move by Zanu PF took the MDC-T MPs by surprise because they had expected fierce opposition on the proposed amendments to the Bill.

Matshalaga said as the new amendments were being made, the government should ensure that law enforcement agents were equipped to respond to emergencies as they did not have the financial capacity and resources to do so.

“As we support this Bill, we must also support those whose responsibility it is to ensure that we exercise this freedom of association,” said Matshalaga.

“Enforcement of the rule of law is costly and currently our law enforcement agents do not have the necessary support even to respond to traffic accidents.”

Hlongwane said Zanu PF fought so that people attained different kinds of freedom and it was imperative to ensure people enjoyed those freedoms.

“We support the amendments to Posa. Zanu PF liberated this country and therefore brought these freedoms.

What it means is we must show our interest by preserving what we fought for,” said Hlongwane.

Gonese welcomed the support from Zanu PF MPs as he had not anticipated they would do so.

“I say that there is a new spirit in this august House and I believe this is going to be the start of good things to come,” he said.

The Bill passed through the Second Reading Stage and will today go through the Committee Stage where it would be scrutinised on every clause.

Before it goes through Committee Stage, Gonese will on Wednesday propose another amendment, which he said MPs and the Parliamentary Legal Committee had unanimously agreed to.

“The amendment will further improve the contents of the Bill,” said Gonese.

Bulawayo East MP Thabitha Khumalo (MDC-T) said during debate that it was important for the legislature to stop the culture of preaching peace while they practiced war.

Bulawayo South MP, Eddie Cross (MDC-T), said the amendments to the Bill should be supported as that would remove elements that hindered democracy.

His sentiments were echoed by Magwegwe MP Felix Sibanda (MDC-T) who said the House should unanimously support the Bill as any oppressive piece of legislation would also affect those who crafted it if political tables turned.

Posa had been a tool used by the Zanu PF government to suppress freedom of speech and association by Zimbabweans.

During the past decade, hundreds of opposition supporters and civic rights groups have fallen victim of this draconian law.

They were arbitrarily arrested, thrown in jails, sometimes being released without trial and, in those cases that went to court, very few were convicted.

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