Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa halted the second Senate reading of a law amending the Public Order and Security Act, saying it was not properly tabled and that POSA remains a subject of negotiations in Harare's national unity government
The proposed POSA amendments were moved by Innocent Gonese, chief whip of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He said the amendment bill had already passed in the House of Assembly and was now before the Senate for consideration. The legislation would reduce police powers.
Lawmakers want to bring POSA into line with the constitution on issues of freedom of assembly and association. Zimbabwe's police have often used POSA, which defenders of human rights consider draconian, to prohibit public and political gatherings.
Gonese told VOA Studio 7 reporter Violet Gonda that he will re-introduce the bill if talks among the co-governing parties to not yield results.
Human rights lawyer Andrew Makoni said POSA must be repealed as it does not belong in any democratic society. "If we are to say Zimbabwe is a democratic country, it does not need to be regulated in the manner which the Public Order and Security Act seeks to regulate the people of Zimbabwe,” Makoni declared.
Legislator Moses Mzila-Ndlovu of the MDC wing led by Welshman Ncube, a negotiator in the government for that party, told VOA reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that the question of POSA is supposed to be dealt with by party negotiators – but may not be until the status of former party leader Arthur Mutambara has been resolved.
Mutambara lost control of the MDC wing to Ncube but remains a deputy prime minister and a principal in the unity government with the blessings of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai. The Ncube-led MDC says he should no longer attend meetings with the president and prime minister as he is not the party's leader.