Some senators have drawn parallels between the new Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill (MOPO), and South African Apartheid Regulation of Public Gatherings Act (No.205) of 1993.
The South African Apartheid Regulation of Public Gatherings Act was meant to control the holding of public gatherings and demonstrations at certain places.
The MOPO Bill was crafted to replace the unpopular Public Order and Security Act (POSA) of 2002.
While debating the proposed Bill in the Upper House last week, Senator Gideon Shoko argued that MOPO is even worse than South Africa’s Apartheid Act. He said:
It is unfortunate that some of us might not have researched where the contents of this bill are coming from, certainly, it is coming from apartheid South Africa that is independent but you are getting it to this country and we are seeing some senators standing up clapping and saying this is a wonderful law.
Senator Douglas Mwonzora also compared the MOPO Bill to Apartheid legislation. He said:
Fundamental parts of this bill borrow heavily from the South African legislation. The sections were then scattered around so that perchance, we may not identify but through research, we have identified.
Clause 13 of the MOPO bill which empowers the police to use ‘force’ and firearms and other weapons to disperse an unlawful gathering. The clause reads:
If a member of the police of or above the rank of warrant officer has reasonable grounds to believe that danger to persons and property as a result of the gathering or demonstration, the police may order the members of the police under his command to disperse the persons concerned and may for that purpose order the use of ‘force’.