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ZimRights hails POSA amendment
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
February 23, 2010

ZimRights hails 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.

Mutare Central 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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