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Order and Security Amendment Bill, 2009
December 11, 2009
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Order and Security Amendment Bill, 2009
This Bill will
amend the Public Order and Security Act [Chapter 11:17] to ensure
that the public gatherings are regulated in a manner that will allow
Zimbabweans to fully exercise their fundamental democratic right
to express themselves through the medium of peaceful assembly and
association. The Bill will also clarify some of the existing provisions
in the current Act.
of the Bill provide as follows:
This clause sets out the Bill’s short title.
This clause will replace two of the definitions in section 2 of
the Public Order and Security Act.
of “public demonstration” will be restricted to cover
only demonstrations that are sufficiently large to make it a reasonable
possibility that public disorder, a serious breach of the peace
or substantial obstruction of streets will occur. The new definition
of “public meeting” will make it clear that domestic
meetings of organisations such as political parties and trade unions
will not normally fall within the Act’s provisions, and that
political parties may hold meetings in venues that are not open
to the public and in public places that are indoors (e.g. in public
This clause notes the need for the regulating authorities to accord
everyone, immaterial of party political affiliation, the constitutional
right of freedom of peaceful assembly and association, which right
may only be restricted by the regulating authority on application
to a magistrates court. It also requires officers in the law enforcement
agencies to undergo appropriate training on the proper application
of the Public Order and Security Act and the democratic right of
all Zimbabweans to engage in peaceful assembly and association.
Section 14 of the Public Order and Security Act empowers a “regulating
authority” (i.e. a senior police officer) to ban for up to
three months the carrying of catapults, axes, knives or daggers
or traditional weapons if he or she believes that carrying them
is likely to cause public disorder or a breach of the peace. Even
trivial breaches of the peace would justify such a ban. This clause
will amend the section so that only serious breaches will afford
justification for a ban.
Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act requires organisers
of public gatherings to give the police at least seven days’
notice of the holding of a procession or public demonstration and
five days’ notice of the holding of a public meeting, and
makes failure to do so an offence.
will amend the section to provide that organisers should give four
days’ notice of the holding of a procession or public demonstration
or the holding of a public meeting.
will only have to try to give the requisite notice, and there will
be no penal sanction for failing to give it. The notice can be given
to any police station near the venue of the meeting. The new subsection
(5) will make it clear that the police have no power to refuse permission
for the holding of a public gathering (this is so under the present
law), and that a failure to give notice to the police will not render
a public gathering unlawful.
Section 26 of the Public Order and Security Act empowers a regulating
authority (i.e. a senior police officer) to impose conditions on
the holding of public gatherings and to prohibit a particular public
gathering if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that it will
cause public disorder.
will introduce a number of changes to restrict the powers of the
Where the regulating authority imposes conditions on the holding
of a public gathering, the convenor will have the right to appeal
to the magistrates court against the imposition of those conditions
and the magistrate must deal with this appeal on an urgent basis
before the holding of the gathering.
authority will no longer have power to prohibit a public gathering;
the authority will instead have to bring an application in the magistrates
court for an order prohibiting the public gathering in question.
Whenever it is practicable to do so, before granting an order the
magistrate must afford the organiser of the public gathering concerned
a reasonable opportunity to make representations in the matter.
If the magistrate
grants or refuses to grant the order, there will be a right of appeal
to the High Court and the High Court will have to deal with the
appeal on an urgent basis.
Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act allows a regulating
authority to prohibit temporarily public demonstrations in an area.
This will be
changed so that this power will vest in a magistrate on application
by a regulating authority. Any person aggrieved by an order by a
magistrate banning public demonstrations will be entitled to appeal
to the High Court against the order.
This clause will repeal section 27A of the Public Order and Security
Act, which prohibits the holding of public gatherings near Parliament
or the courts, or in the vicinity of protected areas. Such gatherings
will be dealt with in the same way as all other gatherings under
Under section 28 of the Public Order and Security Act, an organiser
of a public gathering who fails to notify the police of the gathering,
or who fails to comply with any direction or order given by the
police in relation to the gathering, or who encourages disorder
at the gathering, is civilly liable for any loss, damage, injury
or death that may be caused by disorder at the gathering. This clause
will amend the section to make it a defence for the organiser to
prove that the disorder would probably have occurred even if he
had given the requisite notice to the police, or if he had obeyed
the direction or order concerned. The clause will also repeal subsection
(5) of the section, which obliges a court to award damages to injured
persons upon convicting the organiser of a public gathering of contravening
section 24, 25, 26 or 27 of the Act. The effect of the repeal is
that such an award will be discretionary, not obligatory.
This clause will repeal section 32 of the Public Order and Security
Act, which requires everyone to carry their identity documents when
in public, and empowers the Police to stop people at random and
require them to produce their identity documents. The section is
PRESENTED BY HONOURABLE GONESE
To amend the Public Order and Security Act [Chapter 11:17]
ENACTED by the President and the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
1 Short title
This Act may be cited as the Public Order and Security Amendment
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