Opposition and ruling party legislators have clashed over the new Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill (MPOB). The bill is yet to be exposed for public hearings before it is debated in Parliament.
MPOB was proposed as a replacement of the infamous Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which was viewed as draconian in some cricles.
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Critiques have claimed that the bill is a reflection of POSA and the purported changes are superficial. Opposition party MDC legislator Theresa Makoni said:
Police as the authorities responsible for these things can give or not give permission. I personally think that if the situation is maintained, then there will be no difference between the old POSA and this new Bill.
I believe that the authority of the police is excessive. They should not be the ones to say yes or no to the demonstration, It should just be a notification and nothing more than that.
Makoni’s remarks caused displeasure to some legislators belonging to the ruling party among them Joseph Chinotimba. Chinotimba accused opposition parties and civil society groups of “complicating” things, describing the bill as perfect. His sentiments were shared by Zanupf Deputy Chief Whip Obedingwa Mguni who said that the authority given to the police shall ensure law and order. Mguni said:
The clause in this Bill is very welcome, the one which states that for those who seek to hold a meeting publicly, be it a political rally, a wedding, a church gathering and so forth with people exceeding 15 they should notify the police.