PARLIAMENT’S Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) has agreed to amend regulations to allow MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese to steer the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) Amendment Bill through the Senate, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Mutare Central MP Gonese successfully steered the Posa Amendment Bill as a Private Members Bill in the House of Assembly last December but was not allowed to take the Bill to the Upper House as he is not a senator. Zanu PF senators have threatened to block the amendments using their majority in the Upper House.
The MDC-T chief whip confirmed on Tuesday that he would steer the Bill in the senate soon after the technical hitches had been sorted out.
“I was told the SROC met and agreed to amend the Standing Rules so that I would be allowed to steer the Bill in Senate,” Gonese said, “The process is likely to take place soon after everyone accepts that the amendments are noble in the new dispensation.”
Last week, Zanu PF held a senators’ caucus at parliament where they agreed to block the Posa Amendment Bill citing demonstrations and political violence that rocked Harare recently.
A senior Zanu PF appointed senator confirmed the caucus resolution to the Independent.
“We have resolved not to support Posa Amendments,” the senator said, “The party thinks that MDC would use the relaxation of the laws to cause mayhem in the cities and towns. Look at what happened in Harare last week.”
The stance reinforces what Zanu PF politburo member and Mwenezi East MP, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, told the Zimbabwe Independent in December last year that his party was going to block the Bill’s passage.
“We will not support the Posa amendments because they will cause anarchy,” Bhasikiti said then, “They are proposing that the Act should not make demonstration organisers responsible for the destruction that takes place during the street actions. How can we sanction removal of the burden of responsibility from the organisers?”
The Bill seeks to increase freedom of assembly and association by reducing police powers as the regulating authority in sanctioning demonstrations and to compel the security forces to write a report detailing how they used force to quell any protests.
The Bill further redefines a ‘public meeting’ in a manner that makes it clear that internal meetings of organisations such as political parties and trade unions will not normally fall under the Act’s provisions.
Under the proposed law, political parties may hold meetings in venues that are not open to public and in public places that are indoors such as public halls.
Posa amendment will fulfill one of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) conditions that the country should amend laws that restrict democratisation reforms. The agreement also mentions the repeal and amendments of laws that control the public media and broadcasting.