Comment: Abolish Posa, Aippa

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We are not fond of saying we told you so, but in this case we did.

The media has for years been screaming itself hoarse that the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and its evil Siamese twin, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), be repealed for they trample on the fundamental rights of Zimbabweans.

The clergy has been divided over the debate. Some were silent believing the discourse was political while others joined hands with dissenting voices to castigate these draconian laws which crush basic human freedoms of association and expression.

Those silent have become victims of their silence evidenced by the recent ejection of 80 parishioners from holding an annual retreat at Peterhouse School near Marondera.

The Archbishop Chad Gandiya-led Anglican Church came face to face with reality when they were booted out of school grounds by the police ostensibly because they had not sought clearance to congregate as required under the repressive Posa.

A lesson the Gandiya crew should have learnt from this experience is that Posa and Aippa have absolutely no place in a democratic society.

Despite spirited efforts by President Robert Mugabe’s hangers-on still feeding at the trough, these draconian laws should be repealed.

In fact, they should have been repealed long ago had legislators not wasted our time going through a Bill by MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese that later went to the Senate and came to a screeching halt.

Posa, enacted in January 2002 ahead of the March presidential poll, is said be have been part of a broader strategy by the then government run by Zanu PF, to thwart campaigns by the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai and his team as well as hinder activities by non-governmental organisations they linked to the then opposition party.

Aippa, on the other hand, blocks the opening of airwaves, mistreats foreign media through charging astronomical operating fees and stifles access to information.

The two laws are being used to criminalise journalism. Many civic activities have been banned under Posa and there have been a string of arrests since its enactment. These laws should be repealed and we hope the clergy has now woken up and smelt the coffee.

It’s worth noting that there are surrogate acts under Posa which are being used to keep suspects in detention.

The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) gives the Attorney-General’s Office powers to invoke section 121 of the CPEA to suspend bail granted by magistrates and keep suspects behind bars. Other pernicious legislation includes the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Political gladiators should not play Russian roulette with people’s lives, but get on with the job of repealing Posa, Aippa and the whole gamut of rotten laws passed since 2000 to maintain our oppressors in power.