Harare – A proposed replacement of the infamous Public Order and Security Act (POSA)would compel the President to inform parliament before deploying army, cabinet has approved.
Briefing the media as a post cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Information and Publicity Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the provisions of the new bill that seek to aligb the new constitution to with other laws, enjoins the president to alert parliament before deploying the military.
“Following the approval by cabinet of the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) at its previous sitting, Cabinet considered and approved the consequent proposed Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill, Whose provisions will be in conformity with the constitution of Zimbabwe,” she said.
Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the president will be required to inform parliament if the soldiers are deployed.
“There is a provision in POSA where the armed forces can be called to assist the police and the constitution says that once armed forces have been called to assist the police, the president must cause parliament to be informed.
“We are going to insert that provision to ensure that within the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill, that provision is captured whereby the president will now be called upon to inform parliament within seven days of its next sitting after deploying soldiers to assist the police,” he said.
Minister Ziyambi said cabinet agreed to change the name of the Act to Maintenance of Peace and Order.
“Basically as you all may be aware that we had about two judgements of the courts relating to POSA and also their compliance issue, the need to align POSA to the constitution but we agreed that we need to change the name hence the new name Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill.
“The first issue that we wanted to amend is where a convener, in the current act, there was no requirement for the regulator to give a specific period whereby they can respond if you have applied to hold a public meeting.
“In the new bill we are saying that once there are no issues within three days the regulator must inform convenors of that particular meeting that they can go ahead, this is going to be inserted in the bill,” he said.
Last year the constitutional court out ruled POSA, a law the opposition has previously alleged was systemically used by government to thwart their demonstration.
He said the requirement that the regulator was allowed in advance to ban in a specific area, demonstrations has been removed.
“Also we had an issue whereby we needed to deal with section 27 whereby it spoke about the regulator being allowed in advance in anticipation of a demonstration to designate a certain area that demonstrations cannot be done for a month or so, this we have repealed.
“That requirement that the regulator was allowed in advance to ban in a specific area, demonstrations have been removed,” he said.
“There was also within the Act the provision that if you do not have an Identification card, you can be detained, in the new Act if there is a security roadblock and you do not have an identity card, the officer can now require you to come to the police station within seven days to identify yourself with your identity card.
Should you not have an identity card then you will be liable to a fine, previously you could be detained if you do not have an identity card,” Ziyambi stated
Before POSA came into effect, Zimbabwe used the Law and Order Maintenance Act which was popular with the Ian Smith regime.