Debunking Posa

HARARE - Celebrations to mark 13 years of MDC existence demystified the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) myth that Zimbabweans are incapable of enjoying freedom of association and assembly without police keeping a watchful eye on them.

All too often, activities by the MDC and other civic gatherings have been stopped by the police on flimsy grounds such as lack of human resources.

The total effect of such unwarranted action is to hobble undertakings by any other organisation except those by Zanu PF.

MDC, which should enjoy freedom of assembly just like its domineering and strange bedfellow in the coalition government, has been hard done by the overarching police reaction to notifications of pending events.

They have displayed fundamental bias in favour of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

Last Saturday, thousands thronged White City Stadium to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the MDC — formed on the behest of Zanu PF.

This might seem untrue, but it is Zanu PF leader Mugabe who dared the trade union-supported civic movement to “form their own party” after a fallout over demands for a more democratic dispensation.

When civil society and trade unions took up the challenge and stepped up to the plate, the then ruling party sought means to proscribe activities by enacting Posa with all its draconian provisions.

Police have used Posa to bully other political parties, deliberately misinterpreting its provisions and creating room for Zanu PF to profit by closing possible avenues for freedom of speech, assembly and association.

But last Saturday’s celebrations turned Posa on its head and unmasked its irrelevance. There was no uniformed police in sight “to protect” thousands who voluntarily attended the rally and rightly deserve police protection as their constitutional right.

To prove Posa redundant, throughout the long hours that MDC supporters revelled in and outside the stadium, there was not even a single incident that would justify police intervention despite their absence.

A dozen armed officers perched on a truck twiddling their thumbs outside the arena opposite the main exit gate could have wondered why they had been awarded such a boring assignment.

Noticeably, the police contingent did not even show the courtesy to direct public traffic after the rally.

Such bias did not escape PM Tsvangirai who made reference to the case of 29 party activists on trial for alleged involvement in the death of a police inspector.

The group has been denied bail while a police officer known to have instigated the killing of a man in Shamva was granted $40 bail.

Police should exercise their constitutional mandate without fear or favour. - Staff Writer

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