PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES SERIES 13-2019 Parliament Invites Comments on Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill

BILL WATCH

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES SERIES 13/2019

[26th April 2019]

Parliament Invites Comments on the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill

Parliament has invited public comments on the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill.  We draw attention to the following points:

Alternatively, written submissions can be sent or delivered to: The Clerk of Parliament, Parliament of Zimbabwe, Corner Third Street and Kwame Nkrumah, PO Box CY 298, Causeway, Harare.

·        The deadline for receipt of comments is Friday 17th May.

·        Public hearings on the Bill – will be held by the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services will be held on dates still to be announced.  For any clarification, you may get in touch with the Assistant Clerk of Parliament on gandiwaj@parlzim.gov.zw

About the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill

The full text of the Bill, as gazetted on 19th April 2019, can be downloaded from the Veritas website [link].  The Bill includes an explanatory memorandum.

Veritas’ Bill Watch 22/2019 of 17th April [link] compared the Bill with the Public Order and Security Act [POSA].  Our conclusion was that, with a very few exceptions, the undesirable features of POSA are retained and the Bill has not been aligned with the Constitution.   POSA prevents citizens from exercising their democratic and constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and association and freedom to demonstrate peacefully as specified in sections 58 and 59 of the Constitution. 

Section 58 Freedom of assembly and association

(1)  Every person has the right to freedom of assembly and association, and the right not to assemble or associate with others.

(2)  No person may be compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting or gathering.

Section 59 Freedom to demonstrate and petition

Every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions, but these rights must be exercised peacefully.

Veritas Urges Organisations and Individuals to Comment on the Bill

As the Bill is so similar to POSA, this invitation presents a great opportunity for organisations and individuals with practical experience of POSA in action to share that experience with MPs so they appreciate the extent to which POSA curtailed their constitutional rights and ensure that the MOPO Bill is amended when it is debated in Parliament, so it is aligned with the Constitution.

Now – before the public hearings are held – may be the best time to get MPs thinking about new or alternative approaches to how to achieve a constitutionally acceptable balance between those important freedoms set out in section 58 and 59 of the Constitution, and the rights and freedoms of others.  It is important for MPs – indeed, for everyone – to remember that section 86 of the Constitution recognises that the constitutional rights enshrined in sections 58 and 59 must be exercised:

 “reasonably and with due regard to the rights and freedoms of other persons”

and that although they may be limited by Act of Parliament it is only to the extent that any limitation is:

“fair, reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness justice, human dignity, equality and freedom”.

 

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