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hails POSA amendment
Rights Association (ZimRights)
February 23, 2010
the public members Bill
that seeks to create an enabling environment for holding of meetings.
It is ZimRight's hope that an end will be put to the intimidation
of Zimbabwean citizens to enable them to participate freely in governance
issues, especially in the making of a new constitution.
The Bill, which was debated
in Harare on Monday, seeks to vest the power of public meetings'
authorisation in the hands of Migistrates and redefine public gatherings
so as to be relevant only to those gatherings which cause great threat
to public safety. This means that only the judicial officer will be
able to impose conditions on a public gathering rather than the arbitrarily
restrict peaceful protests.
Nine civil society
organizations namely the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), the Women's
Trust, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform
(ZLP), Veritas and the Gays
and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) delivered their oral and written
submissions at a public hearing convened at Christian Jubilee Centre
in Milton Park and endorsed the Bill.
MP Hon. Innocent Gonese made the amendment suggestions, which the
civil society organisations unanimously supported. Civil society organisations
also criticised POSA
for curtailing citizens' freedoms. This legislation among other
things has eroded the content of the right to freedom of movement,
association and expression, amongst other fundamental rights. Committee
chairperson and Glen View South Member of Parliament Hon. Paul Mudzore
said his committee will host other public hearings to gather citizens'
contributions to the proposed Bill because of the poor turnout at
the first meeting, which was held at Murehwa shopping centre.
Lack of participation in
Murehwa is a clear indication of apathy, as people are still unwilling
to participate in governance issues. Also, intimidation, which has
surfaced in the last few months, could be a contributing factor to
the limited participation. If participation at these meetings are
an indication of the turn out at COPAC led Constitution consultative
meetings, the chances of producing a national charter representative
of the views of Zimbabweans are slim.
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