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Zimbabwe Police Say POSA Key in Maintaining Law, Order

Zimbabwean police officers surround members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) during their demonstration against delays in the drafting of a new constitution outside parliament in Harare. (File AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The Zimbabwe Republic Police says it does not believe the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) is a draconian piece of legislation but a good law for maintaining law and order in the country.

This was said today by police service deputy director legal services, Assistant Commissioner Takawira Nzombe, while giving oral evidence before the parliamentary human rights committee on the role of the police in promoting human rights in Zimbabwe.

Takawira said it will now be difficult for the police to control demonstrations as the new constitution gives people freedoms of assembly and association.

He said POSA is a good law in policing freedom of assembly and association as it gives the police powers to protect the rights of those people not participating in demonstrations and would rather have it remain in the country’s statute books.

The new constitution annuls most POSA sections, making it one of the more than 400 pieces of legislation supposed to be aligned with the new charter.

Nzombe expressed worry over a provision in the new constitution compelling the police to send arrested suspects to court within 48 hours or release them if they fail to do so.

He pointed out that this cannot be done in remote areas of the country where there are circuit courts that sit once or twice a week.

Nzombe said this provision must be struck down so that police can hold suspects for a longer period until they go to court, especially in remote areas.

He said police were concerned by the removal of the justifiable homicide provision in the country’s statute books, noting that there is need for an amendment to include it, especially in cases involving self-defense.

Nzombe also said it is difficult for the police to clean up and upgrade holding cells, as ordered by the Supreme Court recently, due to lack of funds.

He said prior to the Supreme Court ruling following an application by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise or WOZA, government in 2012 set up a committee comprising several government ministries and the International Red Cross Society to look into such issues. It made similar recommendations which are now before cabinet.

Responding to a question on why police had not arrested so-called salarygate suspects, Nzombe said while it’s morally wrong to get such huge salaries, police would not take action because their salaries were sanctioned by their company boards.

He said suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere was arrested on allegations of corruption in the procurement of an outside broadcasting van from China.

A large number of executives of state-owned firms were reportedly earning hefty salaries while their workers were not being paid. This is now being dubbed the salarygate.