The Public Order and Security (Posa) Amendment Bill was shot down in Senate yesterday, a move that might imply Zimbabweans will have to abide by the piece of legislation that has for long been labelled as oppressive by human rights defenders.
Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa halted debate on the second reading stage of Posa in Senate and said the Act was one of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement.
Chinamasa told the Senate the mover of the proposed amendments, MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese, had tried to smuggle the amendments using the backdoor.
Since the Third Session of Parliament is winding up today to make way for a new session to be opened by President Robert Mugabe on August 23, implications are it would take ages to get amendments to the Bill as those amendments will have to be reintroduced after inter-party negotiators make their decisions.
Chinamasa told Senate he had been engaged in discussions on the issue with Gonese and both parties had agreed the issue of Posa was to be dealt with by the negotiators in the GPA.
“We are in an inclusive government and there are no opposition parties and Posa is a product of joint efforts by the three political parties signatory to the GPA and is one of the outstanding issues in the negotiations,” said Chinamasa.
“I discussed with the mover of the motion that it was unprocedural – bearing in mind our political dynamics, to represent one arm of government and bring a private member’s Bill without bringing this matter on the agenda of the negotiators.”
Chinamasa said since the matter was before the negotiators, the move by Gonese to bring it before Parliament created unnecessary divisions and undermined the inclusive government.
“I have asked that the matter should not be further debated and that it should be properly referred to the team of negotiators, where it is currently vested. The matter will be allowed to lapse naturally and I want to thank Gonese for his cooperation,” he said.
Other senators were shocked by Chinamasa’s announcement, prompting Chisipite Senator Obert Gutu (MDC-T) to demand an explanation on the sudden turn of events.
Later, Chinamasa told journalists that Gonese had tried to smuggle the amendments through the backdoor.
But Gonese stood his ground arguing he had applied the correct procedure by bringing it as a private member’s Bill.
Gonese said the important issue was to have the amendments to the oppressive Act which denied people freedom of association and assembly. He said if the oppressive sections of Posa were to be dealt with even through other channels like the GPA negotiation, then it would be equally good for Zimbabwe.