The government’s lethargic, if not lacklustre approach, in implementing genuine democratic
reforms is thus cause for great concern.
This should be viewed on the backdrop of the resuscitation of the repressive Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) – albeit under a new name – the Maintenance of Order and Peace Act
(MOPA) , but with the retention, if not tightening of POSA’s draconian provisions.
Reservations by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful
Assembly and of Association, Clement Nyaletsossi, at the end of his visit to Zimbabwe (17 27 September 2019), prior to the enactment of MOPA, are poignant in that regard.
Nyaletsossi, said then, the proposed law had worrying similarities to POSA revealing a
common scope in which the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly is not fully guaranteed.
He noted that the Bill (before its enactment), did not propose “significant substantive
amendments) targeted to address the main problems then prevailing under POSA.
“Instead the … bill continues to give law enforcement agencies broad regulatory discretion
and powers,” “ he said in his end of mission to Zimbabwe statement.
Nyaletsossi, however, noted one important improvement being the deletion of Section 27 of
POSA related to the temporary prohibition of holding processions or public demonstrations
within particular police districts. “However this change is made based on the declaration of
unconstitutionality made by the Constitutional Court in 2018.
“Another improvement is the provision mandating the President, instead of the Minister of
Defence (as provided by POSA), to authorise the deployment of military forces to assist the
police in exercising their functions, and report promptly to Parliament bringing it in line with
the Constitution.
The UN Special Rapporteur, was nonetheless circumspect on the deployment of military
forces. “From my discussions on recent events, I have perceived that the use of military
forces has a profound negative impact, including in the minds of the population, who fear
these forces are not adequately trained to handle demonstrations.
“On this point, I would like to stress that the involvement of the military in the managing of
assemblies contradicts the Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement

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