Laura commends Zim court over PoA landmark ruling

By Staff Reporter

 

A  governance  activist Laura Miti commended the Zambabwe constitutional court for its landmark ruling that a section of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) used by police to regulate public gatherings and demonstrations was unconstitutional.

Zimbabwe’s constitutional court on Thursday last week scrapped a law that was routinely used by police to ban anti-government protests in a landmark ruling following an application lodged by groups of civil society organisations and political parties in May last year.

In an interview this afternooon, Miti who is herself together with other activists in court for unlwaful assembly at parliament buildings last year, pointed out that Zambia needed to get rid  of the Public Order Act as it archaic and retrogressive.

She added that the Public Order Act  was being abused to prevent Zambia citizens from expressing themselves  and critisizing government.

Miti also expressed her dissappointment over  the arrest of people who met in Ndola to discuss the 2019 budget last week.

Last week, Thursday the East African online publication reported that Constitutional Court Judge Rita Makarau, in a ruling endorsed by the full bench, said section 27 of POSA that forced citizens to seek police clearance to hold demonstrations was open to abuse.

“In addition to failing to pass the test on fairness, necessity and reasonableness, there is another feature of section 27 of POSA that I find disturbing,” she said in her judgement.

“It has no time frame or limitation as to the number of times the regulating authority can invoke the powers granted to him or her under the section.”

Justice Makarau added: “Thus, a despotic regulating authority could lawfully invoke these powers without end. This could be achieved by publishing notices prohibiting demonstrations back-to-back as long as each time the period of the ban is for one month or less.

“It, thus, has the potential of negating or nullifying the rights not only completely, but perpetually. On the basis of the foregoing, it is my finding that section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17) is unconstitutional.”

Justice Makarau was making a ruling on an application lodged by groups of civil society organisations and political parties in May last year after they were barred from protesting against Mugabe’s government.

The 94 year-old politician was toppled in a coup six months later where Zimbabwe also witnessed one of its biggest protests in history.

Last week, police arrested tens of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders for planning protests against austerity measures introduced by President Mnangagwa’s government.

Police had banned the protests, citing a cholera outbreak in Harare.