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Zimbabwe Justice Minister Insists Repressive Public Order Act to Stand

  • Ntungamili Nkomo
  • Jonga Kandemiiri
  • Tatenda Gumbo

Chinamasa told a United Nations symposium on human rights Monday in Geneva that POSA and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were “justified pieces of legislation”

Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says there will be no reform of the Public Order and Security Act, or POSA, which critics say police have often used to harass rights defenders and opponents of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

Chinamasa told a United Nations symposium on human rights Monday in Geneva that POSA and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were “justified pieces of legislation” and therefore cannot be changed.

He dismissed reports of human rights abuses by ZANU-PF saying that it is was “crystal clear that the yardstick is neither about human rights nor legal but political.”

The former opposition Movement for Democratic Change has pushed for the amendment of POSA in Parliament, but the ZANU-PF dominated Senate has rejected changes.

Parliamentary Whip Innocent Gonese of the MDC formation headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said his party is not giving up the fight on POSA yet.

Edward Mkhosi, whip for the smaller MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that POSA and AIPPA should be reformed to level the playing field for all of the country's political parties.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said civic groups in Geneva made a presentation to the UN rejecting Chinamasa’s declaration.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, meanwhile, accuses Chinamasa of pushing legislation that would undermine it. Critics say a Human Rights Commission Bill now in parliament gives the the justice minister excessive power over investigations of human rights violations. Advocates say the commission must operate independently.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika said that legislation and the report which Chinamasa tabled at the Geneva symposium showed that the ZANU-PF side of the government is out of touch with reality on human rights.

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