Zimbabwe's government has suspended portions of the draconian Public Order and Security Act and the infamous Access To Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the next 90 days for the duration of the public outreach phase of the country's constitutional revision process,
Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa confirmed the suspension of the laws widely considered to be the basis of repression by the former government of President Robert Mugabe before the emergence of the current national unity government. The suspension only applies to public outreach meetings, however.
Under the Public Order and Security Act, also known as POSA, police must be informed before a public meeting is held, and authorities have often prohibited meetings by political parties or civic groups on that basis.
Organizers of the constitutional revision outreach process have released a schedule of meetings for its first week. Meetings for public comment on what should be in the constitution start Wednesday in all provinces.
Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the parliamentary select committee overseeing revision of the constitution told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that he welcomes the suspension of POSA and AIPPA because this will ensure freedom of public gatherings and individual expression.
Three civic organizations said they will deploy their own monitors to observe and report on the process. The Zimbabwe Peace Project, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said they will deploy 420 monitors and provincial coordinators to gather information, comment on the political environment and highlight any politically motivated violence that may occur.
Violence has been reported in some areas, but Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that activists are optimistic Zimbabweans will be able to express themselves freely.